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24 hours to bid for £1m London ‘culture borough’ with Tower Hamlets a hot favourite

PUBLISHED: 16:16 30 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:22 30 November 2017

Brick Lane's Mela parade, the largest outside south Asia. Picture: Joe Lord

Brick Lane's Mela parade, the largest outside south Asia. Picture: Joe Lord

Archant

Town Halls have less than 24 hours left to bid for the £1 million London ‘Borough of Culture’ title—with tomorrow’s midday deadline.

2011 Baishakhi Mela international festival at Victoria Park, the largest outside southern Asia. Picture: Rehan Jamil 2011 Baishakhi Mela international festival at Victoria Park, the largest outside southern Asia. Picture: Rehan Jamil

But Tower Hamlets council is already on the case with its early campaign launch last month to be London’s culture capital and set to be a ‘favourite’ with the East End’s great reputation for international festivals.

Two winning London boroughs are being chosen by City Hall in February, one for 2019, the other for 2020.

The ‘civic pride’ idea comes from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s pledge to boost our “international culture powerhouse” reputation for artistic vision to “shine a light” on cultural treasures and encourage the public to get involved.

2016 Mela festival parade through streets of the East End. Picture: LBTH 2016 Mela festival parade through streets of the East End. Picture: LBTH

“This will show the world we have cultural gems,” the mayor said. “I want boroughs to celebrate their heritage and creativity.”

The East End is already rich in internationally-renowned culture gems and venues such as Brick Lane’s annual Mela festival, Tower Bridge, The People’s Palace at Mile End, the Half Moon theatre in Limehouse, Whitechapel Gallery, Bow Arts, Wilton’s music hall at Whitechapel, Victoria Park’s music festivals, London Docklands and V&A Children’s museums, St Catharine’s Docks and of course the great granddaddy of them all—the Tower of London.

It has backing from London Assembly’s Unmesh Desai, representing Tower Hamlets at City Hall, who said: “This melting pot of cultures and communities reflects modern multi-cultural London with its thriving arts scene.

London Assembly's Unmesh Desai visits Brick Lane's night life culture. Picture: Mike Brooke London Assembly's Unmesh Desai visits Brick Lane's night life culture. Picture: Mike Brooke

“This bid is testimony to its rich tapestry of history and heritage that has withstood challenging times.”

Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick is also backing the bid. He said: “The East End has a proud heritage and now needs to open the arts and creative industries to everyone—culture is a symbol of the community that drives investment and tourism.”

Top celebs backing the bid from the world of theatre, film and TV who have made the East End their home include Sir Ian McKellen, who lives at Limehouse, and Dame Helen Mirren, living in Wapping.

"The East End has a proud heritage and now needs to open the arts and creative industries to everyone"

Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick

The campaign to make Tower Hamlets “the London borough of culture” was launched last month on the day a deal was signed with AEG International promoters for the All Points East major festival and community events at Victoria Park for the next five years. The four community weekdays a year in the deal include school programmes, local bands, choirs and youth groups, as well as ping pong, lawn golf and giant jenga.

The East End’s traditional cultural global mix makes Tower Hamlets “quite simply the best London borough”, the town hall will have you know.

Its global flavour melts in with ‘home’ culture like the Cockney festival launched during the 2012 London Olympics.

Heritage and creativity are evident in markets and high streets such as Shoreditch, Columbia Road, Whitechapel and Brick Lane, while Docklands and The Tower are integral parts of London’s maritime and royal history, they point out.

Latest online figures show Tower Hamlets has well over 2,000 pledges of public support and rising.

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