UK's art figures back Waltham Forest's bid

5 October 2017


Damon Albarn, Dreda Say Mitchell, David Bailey, Sir Matthew Bourne, and Fleur East back Waltham Forest’s Bid to Become London Borough of Culture

Over 50 people from the world of arts and culture have signed a letter supporting Waltham Forest’s bid to be named London Borough of Culture.  Musician Damon Albarn, award-winning author Dreda Say Mitchell, photographer David Bailey, choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne and  singer and X factor finalist Fleur East are amongst a long list of well-known current and former Waltham Forest residents who are supporting the borough’s bid.

Here’s what they had to say:

The Mayor’s competition to award the first London Borough of Culture is an impressive and worthy initiative.

It provides an opportunity to shine a light on the impact of culture across London; not just within Zone 1 and the usual stomping grounds but across the whole of the Capital.  In the borough of Waltham Forest in north east London, culture is thriving – from the world beating William Morris Gallery, to street art, dance, festivals, concerts and more, it is a borough that embraces its diversity and showcases the creativity and artistic talent of its 271,000 residents.

Awarding Waltham Forest ‘London Borough of Culture’, would have a tremendous impact; putting the borough on the world map and inspiring the next generation of budding artists.  At a time when Waltham Forest is changing rapidly, it will create new opportunities and bring economic prosperity to its residents and workers.

We each have our own individual and special connections to Waltham Forest, but are collectively proud to endorse, and wholeheartedly support, Waltham Forest’s campaign to be the first London Borough of Culture; a borough that is the ideal canvas on which to showcase London and highlight our great City at its cultural best – diverse, quirky, creative and fun.

Waltham Forest houses an ever growing number of creatives in London; we’re not just spectators, we’re participators, innovators, instigators and creators. And to us, no other borough would be a more deserving recipient of the title of the first London Borough of Culture.

David Bailey CBE, who was born in Leytonstone, said:

“Waltham Forest is an example of London at its cultural best, as a vibrant and growing hub for artists, performers and creative start-ups.  Not only would winning the title of London’s first Borough of Culture bring valuable investment here, it would also provide the much-deserved recognition and support for Waltham Forest’s artistic and entrepreneurial communities.”

Author, journalist, campaigner and Walthamstow resident, Dreda Say Mitchell said:

“One of the reasons that culture and Waltham Forest go hand-in-hand is because of its extraordinary ethnic and cultural mix.  Social and demographic change has created a unique mix of people in Waltham Forest that has enabled our borough to promote and showcase diversity through exciting artistic and creative innovations.  Building on the heritage of the past and expanding it with input from all over the world, it’s no surprise that so many very different artists, in so many fields, are eager to move in to the area and get to work.  Becoming London's first Borough of Culture would set the seal on what’s already happening and acknowledge that when it comes to the arts - Waltham Forest has got the lot!”

Sir Matthew Bourne OBE, who was born in Walthamstow, said:

“Growing up in Walthamstow, I have so many golden memories of discovering great movies at the wonderful Granada cinema on Hoe Street, School plays and Scout Gang shows and even forming my first dance company at a Mathews Memorial Church Hall.  All experiences that have influenced me as an adult.  It is astonishing to see how the creative communities and artistic institutions have grown and flourished across the borough since then; Waltham Forest is certainly deserving of the London Borough of Culture title.  More importantly, there is the scope and local expertise to grow its cultural offer even further with more investment from the Mayor’s Office.”

Leader of Waltham Forest Council, Cllr Clare Coghill said:

“From the very start of this competition, we have always believed that we are a front runner to be named as London’s first ever Borough of Culture.  We have been overwhelmed by the response to our bid and heartened that so many people – from across arts and culture – support our bid so whole-heartedly.  We are honoured to have the support of renowned artists such as Bob and Roberta Smith, Damon Albarn, and Dreda Say Mitchell each of whom has a special connection with Waltham Forest.  Spurred on by their support we will continue to put together a bid that shows why we deserve this award.”

We already have over 5,000 pledges of support but we still need your help to boost this number. To pledge your support and back our bid online please visit  You can also support our bid on our social media pages and keep up-to-date with the latest news and initiatives. Find us on Twitter and Facebook by searching for or #BackTheBid and don’t forget to share with your friends and family.