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Mayor of London announces new funding for diversity in public realm art

Above: Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London (courtesy Mayor of London)

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has awarded £533,000 to support a series of community projects designed to improve diversity in the capital’s public spaces.

New murals, plaques and walking tours are among 42 community projects across 19 boroughs receiving funding as part of the work of the Mayor’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm.

The projects include plans to install rainbow plaques celebrating LGBTQ+ history across London, walking tours and artworks in Islington telling the stories of the capital’s Jewish communities, and the creation of three new murals to celebrate influential Black women from Lewisham chosen by local residents.

In addition, grants will fund a new heritage tour to celebrate trailblazing women in Hackney, the installation of heritage information boards in Chinatown and a collection of stories and oral histories from market traders and local people in Walthamstow market.

Further projects include in the South East - Vanbrugh Park Estate Residents Association's 'The Lost Story of Emily Wilding Davison's Blackheath - and the V22 Communities' Manor House Library, 'Reclaiming contested histories: Sir Francis Baring'.

The funding is part of the £1m Untold Stories programme to champion diversity in the capital’s public spaces and ensure London’s landmarks and monuments reflect the achievements of all who have contributed to the success of our city. The grants offer Londoners the opportunity to develop ideas and share their stories which will be represented within the public realm.

Organisations can apply for grants of up to £5,000 to develop a concept or idea, or up to £25,000 if the project is further developed. A second round of funding will open for application on June 13.

Sadiq established the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm to improve the representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, women, LGBTQ+ communities and Deaf and disabled people and those from a range of socio-economic backgrounds in the public realm. The Commission’s role is to enrich the capital’s public spaces and advise on better ways to increase public understanding of the human stories behind existing statues, building names and memorials.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m proud that, through the Untold Stories grants programme, we will herald the transformation of our public realm into one that better reflects our city’s rich and complex history. By sharing London’s Untold Stories, we can ensure that more of the people and communities who have contributed to our city’s success are duly recognised and remembered, I want everyone to be able to take pride in our public realm and we can only do this if it represents a more complete picture of the people who have helped make London the incredible city it is today.”

Lynette Nabbosa, Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm member and the founder of Elimu, said: “I was both impressed and delighted with the creativity and diversity of the applications we received for the Untold Stories grant programme. There were so many varied ideas and proposals, it was difficult to choose. I am excited that Londoners from diverse communities will have this opportunity to be reflected within London’s public realm. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of these wonderful projects.”

David Bryan CBE MBA , Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm member and Chair of Battersea Arts Centre, Brixton House and Creative Lives (UK) said: “It is crucial that every Londoner is represented in the cultural landscape of our city, that’s why the Untold Stories grants are so important now and for the future. These projects will help to educate, inform and affirm London’s diverse community through arts and creativity.”

Piers Thompson, Director, Portobello Radio – Sounds of Latimer said: “We are delighted to have been awarded a Test and Nurture Grant to develop the Untold story of Latimer, two estates in Notting Dale. Notting Dale has always been the land of the dispossessed, from the pig farmers expelled from Tyburn, the washerwomen of Silchester, the long established Travellers, the first West Indians, the squatters of Frestonia to the bereaved of Grenfell and the campaigners for justice, housing, the environment, the college. Its people have always valued community and self-help. This project will recognise, memorialise and celebrate that.”

Charlotte Bill, Clapham Film Unit, Where are the women? said: “We are delighted to receive this funding for our Test and Nurture project it is a wonderful opportunity to recognise the work of these outstanding women artists."

Rita Co-Founder Club Kali Network, Club Kali – South Asian Pink Hub, said: “We are excited about this funding for Untold Stories as it will enable us to collaborate with key organisations, the South Asian Pink Hub to explore and share our LGBTQ+ hidden heritage in London.”

Rabbi Mendy Korer, CEO of Chabad Islington, Chabad Lubavitch of Islington CIO, said: “Being part of the Untold Stories project has offered us an exciting and unique opportunity to embark on a journey we are very much looking forward to. There is unknown and surprising history in the area which we can now finally share with the public thanks to the funding from GLA and Mayor of London. The impact of this project will connect the hidden Jewish history of Islington to anyone strolling through the neighbourhood thereby discovering and bringing alive its stories.”


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