The Award For Brixton X Harlem Twinning Initiative 2024 Awarded

February 21, 2024

The inaugural winner of the best placemaking initiative category at the annual City Nation Place awards was the Brixton X Harlem twinning initiative, spearheaded by business improvement districts (BIDs) in both neighborhoods.

City Nation Place, a prominent global forum for place branding and marketing based in the UK, lauded the initiative, emphasizing the unforeseen commonalities between Brixton and Harlem recognized by the Brixton Business Improvement District (BID).

According to the organizers, the Brixton X Harlem festival transcended continents to celebrate shared narratives and interweave the rich cultural fabric of two iconic neighborhoods deeply rooted in the African and Caribbean diaspora.

Moreover, it provided Brixton residents and businesses with an opportunity to rediscover their connection to the district.

Gianluca Rizzo, director of Brixton BID, and Jessica Dyer, cultural manager, highlighted the pre-existing relationship between Brixton BID and Barbara Askins, president and CEO of Harlem’s 125th Street BID.

Following the global Black Lives Matter movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd, Askins and her team in Harlem launched Canvas for Change, transforming boarded-up shop fronts into community spaces for sharing grief, aspirations, and visions for the future.

Inspired by this initiative, Brixton BID collaborated with Barbara to address shared challenges across both neighborhoods.

In Brixton, a campaign featuring messages of community support and celebration was launched, including the installation of over 30 lamppost banners.

Both BIDs emphasized the parallel histories and social issues of Brixton and Harlem, along with their recent experiences of rapid socio-economic transformation, often termed gentrification.

Sharing common principles such as equality, diversity, inclusivity, and social justice, the BIDs embarked on a pioneering BID-to-BID and neighborhood twinning mission to enhance the quality of life for residents and foster economic vitality.

The inaugural Brixton X Harlem festival, held in August 2022, offered a free community-centered event encompassing music, arts, culture, heritage, craft, and business.

It embraced five thematic pillars: Business & Industry, Arts & Culture, Music, Food & Drink, and Heritage.

Notable connections were forged between entities such as Brixton Brewery and Harlem Brewing Company, and Brixton’s Black Cultural Archives and the Studio Museum in Harlem.

These partnerships yielded tangible outcomes, including a collaborative brew for the festival and ongoing collaborations between cultural institutions.

The festival served as a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives in fostering cross-cultural dialogue and economic prosperity.

Photo credit: 1) Jessica Dyer and Gianluca Rizzo with the award. 2) Event Logo.

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