This is a sponsored article on behalf of We Are Lewisham.
Lewisham's year as the Mayor's London Borough of Culture is inching ever closer — and you can start planning how you're going to get involved right now, thanks to the release of the eye-popping events programme.
Dubbed We Are Lewisham, the programme for 2022 is described as a "call to action for a more equal future" that celebrates the borough's history of activism, its modern-day trailblazers, and diverse communities. The lineup is crammed with a year's worth of workshops, festivals, installations, gigs, and pop up performances — including a surreal beach opera, a Vogue ball hosted by a Turner Prize nominee, and a Black-led dance spectacle featuring a 250-strong multigenerational cast.
Intrigued? Read on for our pick of the highlights.
The fun begins on 28 January 2022, when Lewisham officially takes up the mantle of London Borough of Culture. Day One is a borough-wide celebration consisting of curated performances, workshops, and creative challenges taking place every hour, on the hour.
Head to Lewisham's main transport hubs to see Trinity Laban composers jamming with local music-makers, and get ready to shake your tail feather with Alleyne Sisters and IRIE! Dance, who'll be leading a mass dance moment.
10 tons of sand and 13 singing sunbathers...
We Are Lewisham has three main strands: a call to action for the climate, a celebration of diversity (and of Lewisham's status as the UK's first Borough of Sanctuary), and a commitment to building inclusivity. The UK premiere of Sun & Sea, one of our top programme picks, speaks to the first of these.
This theatrical installation, which took home the Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, will bring 10 tons of sand and 13 singing sunbathers to the Albany in Deptford next June for an enchanting operatic exploration of the relationship between people and the planet
Another event shining a spotlight on climate change is Hope for Justice, a new performance commissioned by Trinity Laban and co-created by composer Eska Mtungwazi, Young Person's poet laureate Cecilia Knapp and choreographer Sarah Golding — along with hundreds of young people from across the borough.
There's also the launch of Climate Home, a pop-up low carbon creative space, designed, built and led by young people.
A global music festival and large-scale dance spectacle
You'll also want to mark Revolution Through Music — a series of gigs showcasing the borough's grassroots music culture — in your diary. In March, Mercury Prize nominee and Deptford local David Okumu pairs high profile artists with emerging talents (the headliners are yet to be unveiled, but watch this space for some familiar names).
In May, it's time to pay tribute to Lewisham's history of activism through sound system trails, dub poetry, and a Vogue ball hosted by Turner Prize Nominee Black Obsidian Sound System. And, later in the year, there's a global music festival at Horniman Museum Gardens; an exploration of grime, drill and afrobeat curated by Novelist; and a large-scale dance spectacle that brings to life diverse stories from the borough, with a focus on the positive impact of migration.
Lewisham's diversity is also celebrated through the oral histories that comprise In Living Memory: a series of projects that tell a striking new story of the borough's recent past — from protests to floods to social dancing.
D/deaf hip hop drama and colour-changing trees
Another programme highlight is Liberty Festival, which showcases the work of D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists, taking place 22-24 July. Accessibility is at the heart of this flagship Mayor of London-funded event, and you can expect relaxed and BSL interpreted live performances, audio described visual art and quiet areas. Look out for a D/deaf hip hop drama, colour-changing trees, and a cafe populated by concrete customers.
Other inclusivity-focused events include We Will Be Happy Here — a sensory interactive installation designed for audiences with learning disabilities — and Moving Day, a site-specific meditation of old age and social care, performed by residents of Lewisham aged 65+.
This is just a taste of what's going on across the borough in 2022. We haven't even touched on the artist residencies, immersive supper clubs, and Creative Futures training programme for young locals seeking to launch a career in the arts. The programme We Are Lewisham is led by Lewisham Council and the Albany. You can browse it in full — and be sure to keep tabs on We Are Lewisham's social media for the latest updates.
Whether you're a Lewisham local or live elsewhere in the capital, there's so much for culture vultures to get stuck into and — after what's been a pretty bleak couple of years — plenty to make you feel hopeful for London's future.
All images © Manuel Vason & We Are Lewisham.