London’s Mayor has set out a vision and a roadmap for extending opportunities for local communities to experience cultural activity in the capital.
Mayor Sadiq Khan’s vision for a “city that is built on the principle of culture for all Londoners” has been spelled out in a draft culture strategy for London, published by the Greater London Authority last week.
Described by the mayor as “the most pro-cultural plan our city has ever seen,” the strategy sketches out a planning framework to support a broad range of cultural places and spaces in the capital, and reveals plans for two new initiatives aimed at increasing access to the arts.
Individuals and organisations are encouraged to share their views on the strategy and comment on what they think are the big challenges and opportunities facing culture in the capital.
The strategy, Culture for All Londoners, is themed around four priorities:
- More people experiencing and creating culture on their doorstep
- Supporting, saving and sustaining cultural places and spaces
- Investing in a diverse creative workforce for the future
- Maintaining a global powerhouse in a post-Brexit world.
Khan pledges to ensure that “as many people as possible take part in cultural activities and have access to creative jobs”. He notes that in the past ten years, London has lost a quarter of its pubs and a third of its grassroots music venues and creative workspaces.
“I want to stem this tide of cultural losses”, he says.
As well as supporting major capital projects like the new Museum of London, a large-scale cultural infrastructure development in the Thames Estuary, and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, funding will be earmarked for much smaller initiatives, such as the capital’s first bookable street art walls in east London.
Access for all
Most of the initiatives described in the strategy have already been announced or are currently underway, but two new pilot schemes will be launched to increase cultural participation.
One, in association with Transport for London, will aim to help families and young people combine travel with a package of free and discounted cultural offers. The other, with Team London, will encourage more young Londoners to volunteer and gain skills and experience in the creative industries.
In his foreword to the report, Khan points out that “the city’s cultural treasures are out of reach and getting a career in the creative industries is unimaginable” for the many young people living in poverty. He sees his planned policies and programmes as an opportunity for a “step change”, extending beyond the major cultural institutions to include community festivals, pubs and nightclubs, busking pitches, skate parks and street art.
The draft strategy’s publication coincided with Khan launching a new micro-grants arts programme aimed at communities which do not usually have access to public funds. It comes shortly after the Mayor announced eleven boroughs will be supported to develop plans for Creative Enterprise Zones, and the awarding of the London Borough of Culture titles and associated Cultural Impact Awards.
The document draws together these, and a number of other projects that have been announced by the Mayor since he took office two years ago, including:
- Introducing an Agent of Change principle to help cultural venues to better co-exist alongside homes
- An artist-led scheme to light the central London bridges
- Delivering the London Curriculum for schools, with a strong emphasis on culture and heritage
- A Creative Land Trust that will speed up financing for artists’ studio providers competing in the London property market
- Creating a Cultural Infrastructure plan to identify what London needs to develop its cultural offer up to 2030
- Delivering a 24-hour vision for London.
The consultation on the strategy will be open online until 19 June.