Walthamstow Creative Connections, Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest Council is currently delivering a three-year cultural programme with a focus on demonstrating how culture can improve people’s quality of life, their wellbeing and their prosperity.

Walthamstow mural

The Heritage Lottery-funded refurbishment of the William Morris Gallery in 2012 put Walthamstow on London’s cultural map and demonstrated locally the value of investing in culture. A determination to secure further investment followed and a cultural programme has been delivered year on year. Thanks to further Heritage Lottery funding, the successful Walthamstow Wetlands project was delivered, and a project to transform Leyton Cricket Pavilion into a food hub is underway. Building on this, Waltham Forest was one of two London boroughs successful in the national Great Place Scheme, with a programme called ‘Creative Connections’ to put arts and culture at the centre of local activity. The success of Creative Connections has supported continued momentum for culture-led regeneration and development in the borough, and Waltham Forest was one of two London boroughs awarded the inaugural London Borough of Culture title for 2019.


  • 2012 – Refurbished William Morris Gallery reopened
  • 2016 Initial discussions with Heritage Lottery Fund about Great Place Scheme
  • Mar 2017 – Announced that Walthamstow would receive £1.36m funding for programme
  • Sep 2017 – Creative Connections: Culture for all programme begins
  • 2018 – Waltham Forest announced as London Borough of Culture

Delivery of activities

Funding for Creative Connections programme £1.36 million Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Great Place Scheme’ £0.07 million London Borough of Waltham Forest Total funding: £1.43 million

The three-year Creative Connections programme is in its second year, and one of the key aims is to enable local creative organisations to build sustainable partnerships with other sectors, helping them to become more resilient. The Barbican has been a key partner in this, providing its skills, resources and networks and delivering a programme of masterclasses to improve business skills and encourage collaboration.



a commitment to spend at least half of the programme budget in the local area, which will support local jobs


support for community-level culture, micro-projects and large-scale events designed to bring communities together


using culture as part of the approach to tackling health conditions such as early-onset dementia

  • 300 jobs – including 200 full-time equivalent jobs supported by Dreamland and over 100 by the Turner Contemporary, including direct employment, jobs supported in the supply chain and induced spending effects
  • one million new visitors to Margate – since opening in 2011, the Turner Contemporary has attracted almost one million people to the gallery who would not otherwise have visited Margate
  • half a million visitors in one summer – Dreamland attracted 500,000 unique visitors over a five-month summer period in 2017
  • 19 per cent tourism growth – Thanet’s tourism sector value grew by 19 per cent between 2013 and 2015, with annual value rising by £47 million to £293 million
  • 1,800 students and teachers from Kent and Medway entered artwork into the Turner’s ‘Portfolio’ competition in 2018, reflecting the opportunities presented by the gallery to inspire the next generation of creatives
  • shifting image – 2017 research shows that Margate is now strongly associated with artists by local visitors
  • catalysing new investment – as well as leveraging £35 million private funding for Dreamland, the developments have helped to attract other town centre investment including Tracy Emin’s new studio, due to open in 2018.

Learning points