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The shared commitment to extending access to arts and culture comes as London Mayor Sadiq Khan begins a review into the supply of artist workspace.

Man painting
Man paints in St James' Park

Arts Council England (ACE) has signalled its commitment to culture in the capital by signing a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with London Councils, the representative body for all of London’s boroughs.

Similar to other joint strategy documents recently signed by the national funder, the MOU commits both parties to shared working alongside a joint ambition to create “culturally active, diverse, prosperous, cohesive and healthy communities”.

It also comes as London Mayor Sadiq Khan announces a city-wide survey into artist workspace, building on a similar study from 2014.

Key principles

The new MOU covers four key principles:

  • Promoting the inclusion of art, culture and creative industries in local placemaking
  • Building capacity and resilience of the arts and culture sector and the creative industries – a ‘particular focus’ for joint funding
  • Extending access to arts and culture
  • Strategic collaboration and advocacy.

ACE Chief Executive Darren Henley said he was certain the collaboration would help create a “truly representative and resilient creative capital”.

“Wherever you are, to make successful art and culture grow – and reap the dividends they bring – local knowledge is invaluable. This is particularly resonant in London, with its nuanced neighbourhoods and distinct borough characteristics,” he added.

Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for city development, highlighted several “unique challenges” facing the city, such as areas of low engagement and a lack of affordable workspace for artists. He said: “By signing this MOU, working in a more strategic way and monitoring progress, we can ensure London’s vibrant arts and culture sector, which is so important to our local communities and the economy, continues to thrive in the years ahead.”

Affordable workspace

The signing of the MOU comes as London Mayor Sadiq Khan conducts a review into artist workspace in the capital, intending to discover how supply and demand has shifted since an equivalent piece of research was conducted in 2014.

The first iteration found London was at risk of losing 30% of artists’ studios, and over 3,000 artists were working in ‘at-risk’ premises.

In addition, it found an estimated 3,500 artists are on waiting lists for workspaces, and around 35,000 students graduate from art and design colleges in London every year.

Individual artists, collectives and studio providers are encouraged to contribute to a new survey, which intends to help the Mayor understand the “key opportunities, threats and challenges facing London’s artists and artists’ workspace providers”.

The questions cover details of premises, activity, rates, tenure, challenges and future support measures.

The survey will close on Friday 20 October, and the findings will filter in alongside the research in the Mayor’s upcoming Cultural Infrastructure Plan.