?London: Cultural Capital?, a draft cultural strategy detailing a proposed 10-year plan to develop London as a centre of cultural excellence and creativity, has been launched by Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.
Described as ?a co-ordinated strategic approach to arts, sport, heritage and creative industries in London? the document has been developed by a Cultural Strategy Group involving representatives of organisations delivering cultural activity in the capital. The 190-page document includes outline plans for a comprehensive range of arts-related initiatives in the city, including:
? supporting the development of the South Bank Centre and securing a new home for the National Film Theatre, but also conducting an audit of cultural facilities to identify gaps in provision
? creating a major pan-London event such as a biennale, and supporting London?s network of film festivals to build their capacity and profile
? improving cultural diversity, specifically giving support to the Notting Hill Carnival and to the organisers of Chinese New Year, and developing Melas in partnership with the Asian community
? developing London?s evening economy, establishing a pilot ?Entertainment Management Zone? in partnership with Camden Council and supporting late night opening by cultural institutions
? promoting London as a world cultural tourism destination, especially products which reflect London?s cultural diversity
? auditing the needs of the creative industry sub-sectors to develop a detailed programme of support
? creating access to culture for all Londoners. Support is specifically proposed for the promotion of subtitling and captioning for people with a hearing impairment to London?s cultural institutions, and Londoners will be encouraged to experience the capital?s cultural resources through free travel to cultural venues for schools, and schemes such as ?Get Into London Theatre?, a discounted theatre tickets scheme.
A period of public consultation on the proposals will begin in May.
Sources of funding for the implementation of the strategy have not been made clear however, and the wide-ranging proposals have taken many by surprise given the announcement last week by the Association of London Government (ALG) that 28 London arts organisations face the total withdrawal of their ALG funding. Cllr Raj Chandarana, Chair of ALG?s Grants Committee and a member of Croydon Council, was also a member of the Mayor?s Cultural Strategy Group. Yet ALG is currently planning to divert the cash used to support work by organisations including the Young Vic, Polka Theatre for Children and Clean Break Theatre Company, into other areas such as sport. ALG?s Grants Committee was due to take a final decision on February 5 as ArtsProfessional went to press. The National Campaign for the Arts has written to councillors across all the London boroughs, as well as to central and local government agencies which fund the arts, calling for an immediate rescue package to stave off the threatened cuts.