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9 January 2020

RISE: Brent 2020 Opening Event

On Saturday 18 January, thousands of people gathered on Olympic Way in Wembley Park to celebrate the launch of Brent’s year as London Borough of Culture 2020 at RISE – a spectacular, free outdoor show hosted by principal partner, Wembley Park.

New event description

With the backdrop of the world-famous Wembley Stadium, the stunning mass-participatory performance told the story of the borough’s journey from the margins to impact culture in Britain through its music, activism, and rebellious spirit. Choreographed by Southpaw Dance Company and performed by a community cast of hundreds, people of all ages, backgrounds and origins, the stunning show featured music, spoken word and dance against a backdrop of projections on a custom-built five-storey stage.

“Tonight I felt I was flying. At my age, being able to dance with 20 year-olds who were so inspiring; they danced with me and did not see my age. They saw a dancer” – Community dancer Cristina Avery, 70

More than 22 boroughs applied to be the London Borough of Culture 2020. When asked why Brent was chosen, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said:

“One of our key aims is that all Londoners get to enjoy culture. Brent had a really good plan(…) Which involved young people in devising the programme and outreach workers to make sure everyone gets involved. That’s from different socio-economic backgrounds, different ethnic backgrounds, different religious backgrounds and different forms of culture. We can’t be snobbish about culture”
– Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

“It was a great start and showed what our programme is about – the people, history, and the cultures in our pocket of North West London”
– Lois Stonock, Artistic Director of Brent 2020


A massive thank you to Robby Graham, the creative team, Southpaw Company performers and dance leads, featured performance groups, spoken word artists, General Levy, Trojan Records, production team and stage managers, community cast, volunteers and principle partner, Wembley Park.

Thank you also to the 2020 Community Advisors, Blueprint Collective, Cultural Leads, the Mayor of London, Justine Simons, Carolyn Downs, Cllr Butt, the Mayor of Brent, Peter & Paul, Bad Madam, The Unloved, the Brent 2020 team, and all attendees and the community who came out in the cold in their thousands.

Our Supporters:
Brent Council, the Mayor of London’s Culture Team, the City of London Corporation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Arts Council England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, John Lyon’s Charity, Berkeley Group, Infosys, Network Homes, Airbnb, Wates and Quintain Ltd.

RISE was just the beginning. Check out the Brent 2020 programme here, and keep up to date with all the latest news here.