Each borough is managed by a local council that is responsible for administering the borough and for delivering public services such as housing, refuse collection and schools.
The London Boroughs, in alphabetical order, are as follows: Barking & Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Camden, City of London, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth and Westminster. The City of London’s local authority is the City of London Corporation, which is not a London Borough. However, local government legislation frequently provides for the Corporation to be treated in the same way as a London borough and for it to act as a local authority.
The current system of London boroughs was established through the London Government Act 1963, with boundaries remaining largely identical today. The number of local authorities was reduced significantly through the legislation. The boroughs consisted of the following former areas:
Barking & Dagenham: Part of Barking and part of Dagenham.
Barnet: Barnet, East Barnet, Finchley, Friern Barnet and Hendon.
Bexley: Bexley, part of Chislehurst & Sidcup, Crayford and Erith.
Brent: Wembley and Willesden.
Bromley: Beckenham, Bromley, part of Chislehurst & Sidcup, Orpington and Penge.
Camden: Hampstead, Holborn and St Pancras.
Croydon: Coulsdon & Purley and Croydon.
Ealing: Acton, Ealing and Southall.
Enfield: Edmonton, Enfield and Southgate.
Greenwich: Greenwich and part of Woolwich.
Hackney: Hackney, Shoreditch and Stoke Newington.
Hammersmith & Fulham: Hammersmith and Fulham.
Haringey: Hornsey, Tottenham and Wood Green.
Havering: Hornchurch and Romford.
Hillingdon: Hayes and Harlington, Ruislip Northwood, Uxbridge, Yiewsley and West Drayton.
Hounslow: Brentford and Chiswick, Feltham and Heston & Isleworth.
Islington: Finsbury and Islington.
Kensington & Chelsea: Chelsea and Kensington.
Kingston upon Thames: Kingston upon Thames, Malden & Coombe and Surbiton.
Lambeth: Lambeth and part of Wandsworth.
Lewisham: Deptford and Lewisham.
Merton: Merton & Morden, Mitcham and Wimbledon.
Newham: Part of Barking, East Ham, West Ham and part of Woolwich.
Redbridge: Part of Chigwell, Part of Dagenham, Ilford and Wanstead & Woodford.
Richmond upon Thames: Barnes, Richmond and Twickenham.
Southwark: Bermondsey, Camberwell and Southwark.
Sutton: Beddington, Carshalton and Sutton & Cheam.
Tower Hamlets: Bethnal Green, Poplar and Stepney Green.
Waltham Forest: Chingford, Leyton and Walthamstow.
Wandsworth: Battersea and part of Wandsworth.
Westminster: Paddington, St Marylebone and Westminster.
As local authorities, the London boroughs play a central role in support arts and cultural provision throughout London. The boroughs directly fund arts and cultural organisations and events, provide and manage arts and cultural venues, promote events and offer advice and support services to the arts and cultural industries. The support of the arts and culture by local authorities is discretionary and varies from borough to borough.
In Barking and Dagenham, the council supports three arts organisations: The Broadway Theatre (http://thebroadwaybarking.com/), the Arc Theatre (http://www.arctheatre.com/) and Studio 3 Arts (http://www.studio3arts.org.uk/). The council has also commissioned a number of public art initiatives, including the A13 Artscape and Barking Town Centre initiatives. The council’s arts service programmes the Barking Learning Centre Art Gallery which affords local artists the opportunity to display their work. In terms of heritage, many visit the borough’s Eastbury Manor House, Valence House Museum and Archives and Local Studies Centre which, after major refurbishment, reopened in 2010.
In Barnet, the principal arts provision is the Artsdepot which is located in North Finchley (http://www.artsdepot.co.uk/). The venue programmes theatre, dance, music and exhibitions and also offers classes. The borough also supports two projects which offer arts provision for young people in the borough: the Finchley Youth Theatre and Canada Villa’s Music Studio (a project offering young people the chance to work alongside professional music producers in a fully-fledged music studio).
The Arts Service for Bexley works to provide opportunities for residents and visitors to experience the arts. The service provides information, support and guidance to residents and local organisations. There are no professional theatres in the borough.
In Brent, the council supports arts projects, performing arts, public art, school arts projects and visual art. Arguably the most high-profile arts venue in the borough is the Tricycle Theatre, located in the heart of Kilburn (http://www.tricycle.co.uk/). The venue includes a theatre, cinema and gallery and was, until 2012, presided over by artistic director Nicolas Kent.
Within the borough of Bromley, residents and tourists can visit the Bromley Museum. The Churchill Theatre which, although not managed by the council, represents an important cultural provision for the borough (http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/the-churchill-theatre-bromley/).
Camden is a hive of cultural activity, being home to a number of prominent theatres as well as the British Library (http://www.bl.uk/), the British Museum (http://www.britishmuseum.org/) and the Wellcome Collection (http://www.wellcomecollection.org/). The council supports many of these organisations and offers some funding for community festivals such as the Bloomsbury Festival. The council operates the website Love Camden to promote events, shopping, culture and going out in the borough.
The City of London is home to the mighty Barbican Centre with its two theatres, cinema and music hall (http://www.barbican.org.uk/). The City also benefits from a number of premiere classical music venues including St Luke’s on Old Street. There are two major annual festivals in the City: the City of London Festival and the Spitalfields Festival.
In Croydon, the council operates the Croydon Clocktower, an attractive arts venue in the heart of Croydon (http://www.croydonclocktower.org.uk/). The other major cultural provision in the borough is the Museum of Croydon, which also incorporates the Rieseco Gallery and the Croydon Art Collection which contains over 2,000 paintings, prints and drawings including work by Henry Moore, Bridget Riley and Rabindranath Tagore (http://www.museumofcroydon.com/).
The Borough of Ealing’s premiere cultural venue is the PM Gallery & House (http://www.ealing.gov.uk/info/200893/pm_gallery_and_house). The Grade I listed Pitzhanger Manor-House was designed by architect John Soane in 1800. The attached PM Gallery is West London’s flagship professional contemporary arts venue. The borough also offers community grants to artists and voluntary groups in the borough.
There are a number of Museums and Heritage facilities in the borough of Enfield, including the Enfield Museum Service located in the Dugdale Centre and the Local Studies and Archives Centre. The borough also benefits from the provision of the Forty Hall and Estate (http://www.fortyhallestate.co.uk/) and the Millfield Arts Centre which is managed by the council.
In Greenwich, the council has entered into a partnership with the BBC and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to deliver the Woolwich Big Screen. The screen is a unique information and event arena for the community and is proving to be a focal point for the local community. Other cultural attractions within the borough include the British Music Experience (http://www.britishmusicexperience.com/) and the Peter Harrison Planetarium (http://www.rmg.co.uk/planetarium).
In the Borough of Hackney, the council has created a programme of free activities and events in Dalston Square. The borough also benefits from the beautiful Frank Matcham-designed Hackney Empire which offers a high-quality programme of entertainment for local and national audiences (http://www.hackneyempire.co.uk/). The Hackney Empire also presents a world-famous pantomime every Christmas.
The Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham benefits from a number of leading cultural venues including Bush Hall (http://www.bushhallmusic.co.uk/), the Hammersmith Apollo (http://www.hammersmithapollo.com/), the Shepherd’s Bush Empire (http://www.o2shepherdsbushempire.co.uk/), the Bush Theatre (http://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/), the Lyric Hammersmith (http://www.lyric.co.uk/) and the Riverside Studios (http://www.riversidestudios.co.uk/). The borough also boasts a number of museums, galleries and exhibition centres.
In Haringey, there is a rich mix of cultural provision. There are three prominent theatres within the community: the Bernie Grant Arts Centre (http://www.berniegrantcentre.co.uk/), Jackson’s Lane (http://www.jacksonslane.org.uk/) and Upstairs at the Gatehouse (http://www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com/). The borough also benefits from strong heritage sites including Alexandra Palace and the Bruce Castle Museum and Archives. The Original Gallery is also a creative hub for emerging artists in Haringey.
Harrow offers a wide variety of theatre, music, dance, comedy and cinema. There are also many opportunities for those wishing to particulate in classes and workshops. The Harrow Arts Centre is the only professional performing arts venue in the borough (http://www.harrowarts.com/). It offers a year-round programme in the beautiful Grade II listed auditorium, Elliot Hall.
The Borough of Havering manages its own programme of arts and entertainments. Activities for both children and adults take place at the Fairkytes Arts Centre. Arts exhibitions are also held regularly at the Hornchurch Library, Central Library Romford and the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch (http://www.queens-theatre.co.uk/). The Queen’s Theatre is a vibrant producing theatre which has over 200,000 visitors each year.
Hillingdon boasts three theatres: the Compass Theatre (http://www.compasstheatre.co.uk/), the Beck Theatre (https://becktheatre.org.uk/) and the Winston Churchill Hall. There are a number of other organisations providing cultural participation for the borough, including the Hayes Carnival, the Hillingdon Arts Association, Bigfest Hillingdon Street Arts Festival, Northwood Community Arts, Manor Farm, the Cow Byre Art Gallery and the Bedlam Gallery at Brunel University.
The Borough of Hounslow has a number of facilities, including artist studios, theatres, museums and historic houses. It also hosts the popular “Hounslow Has Talent” talent show, which has a £500 top prise and is held at the Paul Robeston Theatre (http://www.hounslowhastalent.co.uk/).
There is a thriving arts scene in Islington and the borough is home to a number of the UK’s most prominent arts organisations. The Almeida Theatre, located just off Upper Street, has produced work that has been consistently well received by audiences and critics in recent years (http://www.almeida.co.uk/). Sadler’s Wells is located on Rosebery Avenue and is arguably the preeminent venue for international dance (http://www.sadlerswells.com/). The venue has a number of associate artists, including Matthew Bourne, Jonzi D, Russell Maliphant and Kate Prince. The Kings Place (http://www.kingsplace.co.uk/) and Free Word Centre (http://www.freewordonline.com/) also fall within the borough. Islington is home to more than 15 theatres in total, including some smaller fringe venues such as the King’s Head (http://www.kingsheadtheatre.org/) and Hen and Chickens Theatre (http://www.henandchickens.com/).
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has an arts service that supports the development of artists, offering advice and funding. There are a number of arts projects within the borough, including the Portobello Road Arts Project, the Nour Festival of Arts and the InTRANSIT Festival of Arts. There are two well-respected museums in the borough: the Leighton House Museum and 18 Stafford Terrace. The critically-acclaimed Opera Holland Park is also resident (http://www.operahollandpark.com/).
There are three arts organisations that encourage the development of the arts and culture in Kingston upon Thames. Kingston Arts Council aims to promote and support the arts within the borough (http://www.kingstonarts.co.uk/). Global Arts Kingston seeks to develop the culturally-diverse mix of arts and culture within the borough. MeWe is an organisation developing and delivering performing arts projects to young people (http://www.mewe.org.uk/).
The Borough of Lambeth has an arts service that delivers a number of schemes across the local area. The borough is home to a number of different arts organisations of varying size and reputation. Theatres and theatre companies include the National Theatre (http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/), the Southbank Centre (http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/), the Old Vic (http://www.oldvictheatre.com/), the Young Vic (http://www.youngvic.org/), the Landor Theatre (http://www.landortheatre.co.uk/) and the Oval House Theatre (http://www.ovalhouse.com/).
In Lewisham, there is one of the fastest growing creative sectors in the capital, with over 600 businesses in the digital media sector. The council offers support to organisations with advice, networking and training opportunities. The major cultural destinations in the borough include the Broadway Theatre in Catford (http://www.broadwaytheatre.org.uk/), the Albany in Deptford (http://www.thealbany.org.uk/) and the Horniman Museum and Gardens (http://www.horniman.ac.uk/).
The Arts Team at Merton Council have worked with a number of artists to help deliver projects across the borough, for example the sculpture at Wimbledon Station. The team has also set-up opportunities for artists to use studio and rehearsal space within the borough at favourable rates. The New Wimbledon Theatre (http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-wimbledon-theatre/) is located in the borough, along with the leading children’s theatre Polka Theatre (http://www.polkatheatre.com/).
One of the Olympic boroughs, Newham is home to the nationally-significant Theatre Royal Stratford East. The theatre was home to Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop from 1952 to 1979, responsible for such productions as "A Taste of Honey" and "Oh! What a Lovely War". The work of the theatre continues with a strong manifesto to bring new communities to the stage and portray the experiences of second and third generation immigrants.
Redbridge administrates a community arts grants scheme, offering funding to voluntary organisations working within the borough. In terms of venues, there is the Redbridge Drama Centre (http://www.redbridgedramacentre.co.uk/) and the Kenneth More Theatre (http://www.kmtheatre.co.uk/) within the borough. Through the refurbishment of Valentines Mansion, the council also supports local artists with the provision of studio space.
There are a number of galleries in the Borough of Richmond, including the Orleans House Gallery, the Stables Gallery and the Riverside Gallery. There is also a Literature Festival in the borough, which is traditionally held annually in November. There are two significant theatres in Richmond: the Frank Matcham-designed Richmond Theatre which is a receiving house for professional touring shows and the Orange Tree Theatre which is a theatre-in-the-round dedicated to producing undiscovered writing from the UK and abroad (http://www.orangetreetheatre.co.uk/).
As with many other inner London boroughs, Southwark is home to many important cultural organisations. In theatre, Southwark hosts the commercial theatre powerhouse the Menier Chocolate Factory (http://www.menierchocolatefactory.com/), the replica Shakespearean Theatre The Globe (http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/), the Southwark Playhouse (http://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/) and the leading children's theatre The Unicorn (http://unicorntheatre.com/). The modern art gallery the Tate Modern is also located in the borough (http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern).
The Borough of Sutton is home to the Secombe Theatre, which is run by the council. There is also a community arts development team that seeks to improve access to the arts for local residents and establish networks between the providers of arts and culture in Sutton.
The Borough of Tower Hamlets is a fast-growing area for culture and the arts. Two of the more established arts venues as Wilton's Music Hall which is the oldest surviving music hall in the world and is now used as a venue for original theatre productions (http://wiltons.org.uk/) and the Whitechapel Gallery which was founded in 1901 and presents an international programme of contemporary and 20th Century Art (http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/).
The Arts and Events Service in Waltham Forest work to develop networks of providers of arts and cultural services in the borough and to manage the Changing Room Gallery and East London Drama and Music Centre. There is also Apex Arts, billed as "The Arts Council for Waltham Forest", which leads arts activities and festivals, distributes small grants to voluntary organisations and individual artists and offers advice and support to practitioners throughout Waltham Forest.
The Borough of Wandsworth, a borough which has historically had the lowest council tax in the country, has often been attacked for neglecting the provision of arts and culture. The borough owns and manages the Pump House Gallery in Battersea Park, a contemporary exhibition space overlooking the lake in Battersea Park. Also within the borough is the Battersea Arts Centre, a facility which is respected for its development of innovative new work (http://www.bac.org.uk/).
In the centre of London, the Borough of Westminster has a rich cultural provision enjoyed by local residents and international visitors alike. There are a number of significant galleries located within the borough. Perhaps most significantly, the vast majority of London's West End theatres are located in the Westminster, with the council rebranding the area "Theatreland". Details of the productions running at theatres in the West End can be found at http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/.