The London Borough of Culture has been postponed for a year amid the Covid-19 outbreak.  

Lewisham pledged to deliver “lasting social change” and “a lot of fun” after being named the London Borough of Culture 2021 in February.    

The award, from the Mayor of London, aims to support the arts across the capital and comes with £1.35 million to stage a year-long programme of cultural events across the winning borough.   

It was due to begin next January but is now expected to kick off in January 2022.  

The Deputy Mayor for culture and creative industries, Justine Simons OBE, said: “It’s important that we all follow the Government’s instructions to stay at home unless it is essential to leave.  

“But we do not want Londoners to miss out on the amazing creative programmes that Brent, Lewisham and Croydon have planned, so that is why we have re-scheduled our plans.  

“We will work closely with artists, the boroughs and all those involved to ensure they are supported during these challenging times.” 

Brent, borough of culture this year, is rescheduling its programme until later in 2020, with the Kilburn High Street Party and Liberty Festival, the Mayor of London’s free festival celebrating of the work of deaf and disabled artists, happening in the summer of 2021.  

There was due to be a break for one year in 2022 so Croydon, which won for the following year, will remain borough of culture for 2023. 

Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan said the decision was “not easy”.  

“The decision to postpone our year of culture has not been an easy one but it’s important that we are completely focused on keeping services for vulnerable residents going as best we can during the unprecedented challenge that coronavirus presents.  

“We will continue to work with and support our fantastic cultural partners and grassroots organisations and look forward to celebrating our year of culture in 2022,” he said. 

Lewisham fought off competition from Greenwich, Hounslow, Haringey, Sutton, and Hammersmith and Fulham.  

Plans for the borough include the world’s first ‘tag’ climate carnival with the borough’s 18 neighbourhoods “showcasing the power of culture to highlight social issues and stimulate action within communities”.     

A mass dance party is in the works which will explore the impact of migration and diversity on London’s dance scene.    

The borough will have an outdoor music festival inspired by Lewisham’s Rock Against Racism gigs as well as a national creative careers conference “leading a call to action to address inequality”.