Residents react to Merton’s bid for London Borough of Culture

After Merton launched its bid to become London Borough of Culture on Friday December 1, community voices reacted to the news.

The London Borough of Culture is the Mayor’s new award, which aims to put culture at the heart of the community and bring Londoners together.

Merton is one of 22 London boroughs to submit a bid.

A Merton Council spokeswoman said: “Merton Council signed, sealed and delivered its bid for the borough to be London Borough of Culture 2019, today (December 1).

“Merton’s Christmas lights switch-on from Morden provided the perfect cultural backdrop to the official signing of the bid.

“It was a celebration of the festive season starting and of the cultural riches that can be found right across Merton.

“Bringing together Merton’s creative industries, its sporting heritage and its huge, multifaceted artistic talent from all four corners of the borough makes this bid remarkable.”

Merton Council leader, councillor Stephen Alambritis, said: “We are all very excited about our bid.

“A huge amount of work from people in all parts of the borough has gone into make it a stand-out piece of work.

“It is a demonstration of how amazing our borough and its people are and of the huge potential that is here waiting to be discovered.”

Chair of the Merton London Borough of Culture committee and local music entrepreneur John Merriman said: “I am certain of the benefits that will be felt right across London from our future success as London’s Borough of Culture 2019.

“The culture in our borough is already on a positive trajectory and ready to embrace and amplify the awarding of this honour.”

Peter Glanville, artistic director and chief executive of Wimbledon’s Polka Theatre, said: “Polka is delighted to support Merton’s bid to become London Borough of Culture.”

Mr Glanville revealed that, as part of the proposal, Polka will develop a major community play involving thousands of school children from disadvantaged parts of the borough.

He explained how the play hoped to engage people of all ages and abilities in choral work which would form part of the final production.

He said: “This ambitious and unique promenade production, planned for summer 2019, with six months of preliminary community engagement activities, will be a unique celebration of Polka and the phenomenal creativity of people across the borough.”

Hannah White, co-founder of the pop-up live music Sound Lounge community hub and vegan café, said: “Culture in London has taken a bit of a knock, we’ve had such a difficult time of it.

“We all know music venues have been closing, we know the arts are being taken out of schools.

“So, I think it is a really important statement London is making by even having a Borough of Culture.

“I think it’s absolutely wonderful, and we are supporting and encouraging it.”

Leader of Merton Park Independent Residents’ Group councillor Peter Southgate said: “It’s so impressive to hear about all the cultural talent we have in Merton.

“Let’s keep everything crossed that we win, and we can see our bid come to life in 2019.”

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