Barnet’s Bid for London Borough of Culture

HemingwayDesign is working with the London Borough of Barnet to co-create their bid to become the London Borough of Culture in 2027.

The London Borough of Barnet is embarking on a transformative journey in its London Borough of Culture bid, setting an ambitious course to explore and celebrate its identity like never before.

Despite being a fantastic place to live and work and with hidden gems generally known only to local people, culture in Barnet is not where it should or needs to be. Barnet’s citizens are cultural underserved and deprived of the experiences and benefits that the arts offer. Whilst the borough’s cultural baseline is currently low, Barnet’s grassroots groups have worked resolutely to provide for their communities.

Culture matters. It makes people healthier and happier; it can provide a sense of identity and provide communities and residents with joy, connection and pride.London Borough of Culture is designed to enhance and enable step change in the cultural life of London boroughs.

Funding will enable Barnet to create a year-long programme of cultural and creative activities that celebrates the unique character of its people and places. Becoming a catalyst for creativity across Barnet, bringing people together in pride and celebration and providing a springboard for the borough’s long term cultural ambitions.

Working alongside Barnet Council we wanted to use the London Borough of Culture bidding process to create more meaningful relationship with the borough’s cultural organisations and between its communities and the arts.

To inform the bid HemingwayDesign carried out a 3-month period of engagement entitled ‘Our Barnet Canvas’ which comprised events, workshops and surveys. 

Ten engagement workshops were held with arts, culture, heritage and community organisations, as well as borough-wide sessions with Barnet forums and community groups including Barnet Culture for Youth Steering Group, Youth Advocates and Barnet Youth Board.  

Events took place at Pride in the Park in Victoria Park, Finchley, and at Urban Gamez on the Grahame Park Estate in Colindale.

An online survey of 1,500 residents, made up of students, businesses, artists and community groups, sought to explore the Borough’s special qualities, understand how culture can support local priorities and what residents wanted the programme to deliver.

In response, 84% said they’d like to take part in more cultural events or activities in the borough, and over half said there were not enough opportunities to enjoy art and culture.

The London Borough of Culture award is made in March 2024. Barnet is one of four London Boroughs bidding for 2027.