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New Town Culture

LogoA pioneering programme exploring links between art and culture and social care services

We are excited to launch New Town Culture - a programme of artistic and cultural activity taking place in adult and children’s social care across the entire borough. This is a Cultural Impact Award winning project, part of London Borough of Culture, a Mayor of London initiative.

New Town Culture will respond to the incredible stories, knowledge and skills of the residents of Barking and Dagenham to deliver a programme of workshops, exhibitions, radio broadcasts, live performances and courses targeted to people using social care services in our borough.

Working closely with social care professionals and artists we hope to unlock the value of art and culture for all our communities. Our ambition is to support social workers and carers to try out new ways of working to enhance the brilliant work they already do.

Radio Ballads

LogoA series of new artist projects exploring the world of labour and employment with local residents

Thanks to the actions of local residents in 1968, in 2020 we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act. This ground-breaking piece of legislation is the starting point for a series of major new artist projects taking place within adult social care over the next two years.
Led by the Serpentine Galleries, local residents will come together with artists from around the globe to reflect on the many stories of labour and employment today in the 21st century. 

Radio Ballads was a series of radio programmes commissioned by the BBC Home Service between 1957 and 1964. Described as a combination of “songs, instrumental music, sound effect and the recorded voices of those with whose lives each programme deals” each programme presented a view on the working lives of British people. Revolutionary at the time, they conveyed to the nation authentic voices from people rarely at that time heard in the public sphere. 

We will return to the Radio Ballad to develop a new series of programmes developed by artists and people living in Barking and Dagenham. We will connect with people through many local networks including sheltered housing, support networks for unpaid carers, mental services and ESOL provision.

In Your Time

LogoNew artistic and cultural activity with young people and artists across social care services

We know that experiencing and producing art and culture can have a big impact on how we feel about ourselves, the world and the future. This borough has one of the youngest communities in the UK. Many of our young people want careers in the cultural sector. Sadly, many young people do not have access to art, film, theatre, design, dance and the many things that can support us all to have agency in society. This project sets out to address this imbalance for our young people in social care.

Working in partnership with the Foundling Museum to bring together artists and social care teams we will deliver over fifteen projects with young people at all stages in their lives and experiencing a range of situations.

Together they will make, share ideas, find new friends and visit new places. We will share the results and support them to use these projects to realise their ambitions for work, learning and happiness.

Artists are central to the story of children’s welfare told at the Foundling Museum. The artists commissioned for this programme will continue this rich lineage, rooting their work within contemporary society and exploring the potential for art to activate social agency for young people.


LogoWe will map the creative processes taking place across the entire New Town Culture programme and share them with social care professionals through training and policy.

We are working with the Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies Team at Goldsmiths University of London to understand how these projects could support social care professionals to build communication, notions of belonging and life skills with the people they support.

It is our hope that this research will underpin new continuing professional development for social care professionals working in the borough and enable us to make policy recommendations for future links between social care and artistic and cultural provision.

For more information contact

Find out more about the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture award.


Pictures by photographer Jimmy Lee of New Town Culture launch at Barking Town Hall and a project led by artist Rebecca Davies with foster families

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