Flagship cultural project proposed to celebrate Regent's Canal

A flagship cultural project to mark the 200th anniversary of part of the Regent’s Canal will take place during either 2019 or 2020, if Camden Council successfully secures London Borough of Culture funding.

Working in partnership with the Canal & River Trust, and many other Camden organisations (including Camden Market, Kerb, the Amy Winehouse Foundation, Camden Town Unlimited, Green Man Festival, the National Youth Theatre and Google), the council would lead on the delivery of a series of pop-up events both on and alongside the canal - benefitting both residents and visitors alike throughout the year.

A stretch of the Regent’s Canal from Little Venice to Camden, named after the Prince Regent, later King George IV, celebrated its 200th birthday in 2016, with the remaining length of the canal from Camden to Limehouse set for its 200th anniversary in 2020.

The year-long project to mark the 2020 anniversary is the centre-piece of Camden’s London Borough of Culture bid and expresses the significance of the canal to Camden and how it connected and still connects the area to other parts of London, the country and beyond. The project links with the Mayor’s ‘London is Open’ campaign theme, reminding that Camden is one of London’s major gateways from and to Europe.

The project also aligns with all of the key campaign themes from the council’s bid - Culture Everywhere, Connected borough, celebrating ‘Camden-ness’, and Digitised Camden.

The project would launch the ‘year of culture’, with a day and night of celebration early in the New Year bringing a section of Regent’s Canal alive through music, dance, theatre, site specific installations, innovative lighting, temporary art work, events and workshops.  Artists will be commissioned to illuminate the canal, with boats housing creative projects for workshops and events, whilst walkways and bridges become stages and spaces for intimate events.  Working with The Place, Pan Arts, The Amy Winehouse Foundation, Roundhouse and Bloomsbury Festival, this pop-up event will be open for all of London and the world, to celebrate the best of UK culture and creativity.

Following on from that will be 'Camden Treasure Trove' – a Spring-time project, which will see young people, some of whom are either ex-offenders or at risk of offending, landscaping the canal-side and improving the overall environment.

They will work from archives in order to create a storyline that depicts the heritage of the canal, before the reinvigorated area will be used later in the year for an Autumn / Winter performance that marks the completion of the project.

The young people will also learn digital skills, recording the development of the project, before finally uploading it online – where it can serve as an inspiration for others in future years, hopefully creating a project legacy.

The project will be supported by partners that include Tileyard, the Amy Winehouse Foundation, Camden Town Unlimited, the council’s youth offending team, Google, amongst others.

A three-day festival will also take place at a date to be decided during the year - to celebrate the canal as an alternate outdoor venue.

Partnering with Green Man Festival, Camden Market, Kerb, XRP, the National Youth Theatre, and Her Upstairs, music and visual arts will draw both residents and visitors along the canal-side between Camden Market and King’s Cross.

“The Regent’s Canal anniversary project is at the centre of our bid to be crowned London’s Borough of Culture and will showcase the best of London’s arts and culture, and Camden’s heritage, to residents and visitors from across London, the UK, Europe, and even further afield.

“Working with a large range of hugely talented cultural organisations from across Camden, the year-long project will tell both the historic and current significance of the Regents Canal to Camden.
It will engage young people, involve a range of our communities, improve the environment along the canal, and will deliver the message that Camden is at the forefront of culture in London, and as home to the Eurostar we are key to the ‘London is Open’ campaign.”
Councillor Jonathan Simpson, Cabinet Member for Promoting Culture and Communities

Jon Guest, Canal & River Trust waterway manager, added: “Over its 200 years the Regent’s Canal has seen London change and grow around it. It’s been ahead of its time, behind the times and now once again it is right at the heart of our creative and thriving communities. More people than ever are using the canal and we are delighted that so many individuals and organisations are recognising its anniversary. We’re looking forward to working in partnership to deliver these exciting events.”

Fiona Stewart, Green Man Festival, said: "The celebration of difference is at Camden's beating heart, and this has fuelled the incredible music and cultural experiences Camden is known for internationally. I am one of many people who have benefitted from the creative opportunities and inclusive Camden vibe, and have taken that influence into events Green Man produces in Camden and Wales. The canal will be an amazing venue, and I am delighted that Green Man is Camden's partner and think we will smash it.'