Barking and Dagenham scoops £160,000 at Borough of Culture awards despite missing out on top prize

Darren Rodwell and Liza Vallence at the borough's Borough of Culture launch. Picture: Tom Horton

Darren Rodwell and Liza Vallence at the borough's Borough of Culture launch. Picture: Tom Horton - Credit: Archant

Barking and Dagenham scooped a £160,000 prize at the first London Borough of Culture awards, despite missing out on the top accolade.

Waltham Forest and Brent will be the Borough of Culture in 2019 and 2020 respectively, but Barking and Dagenham’s New Town Culture project won funding from mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

The project aims to embed cultural activity into social care in Barking and Dagenham.

Council leader Darren Rodwell said: “We are really pleased that the mayor has recognised what we are doing here in Barking and Dagenham.

“Obviously it would be nice to have got one of the top two awards but reflection is always important, and four years ago we would not have gone for this.”

Mr Khan extended his congratulations to Barking and Dagenham, saying: “Culture can have a hugely powerful impact on people’s health and wellbeing, which is why I’m delighted to support Barking and Dagenham’s creative project, which embeds cultural activity in social care – working with looked-after children and care leavers.”

The New Town project will see the Foundling Museum, children’s author Jacqueline Wilson and artist Grayson Perry take culture into care homes in the borough.

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The programme was designed by and for looked-after children in the borough.

Mr Khan said that high quality bids meant the judges faced a “very difficult decision.”

“We’ve seen in the bids that have been submitted the brilliant ambition of boroughs across our city to deliver real change in their local areas through the transformative power of culture,” he added.

Funding for the award came from City Hall and City Bridge Trust.

Waltham Forest and Brent have won £1.35 million each as part of the award, and Barking and Dagenham’s £160,000 comes out of a £850,000 pot being shared with five other boroughs - Camden, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham and Merton.

Barking and Dagenham, who had the support of Britain’s first Eurovision winner Sandie Shaw, launched their bid outside the Town Hall in November with councillors, Barking MP Margaret Hodge and London Assembly member Unmesh Desai leading a giant conga of supporters and schoolchildren around the square.