There’s a competitive nature amongst large cities around the world, and the superlative “best” is often used to describe what each metropolis has to offer. Can your city brag about having a cultural strategy that champions ideas, innovation, and creativity? Ask London, and the answer is a resounding yes – thanks to the city’s mayor, Boris Johnson. This past Monday, Johnson published Cultural Metropolis, a visionary recommendation to strengthen the cultural life of Londoners across the capital. The case set forth acknowledges the contributions of the cultural and creative sectors in London and recognizes how continued support and investment leading up to the 2012 Olympics will provide a brilliant opportunity for London to shift its cultural activity and participation.
The history of London shows that investment in ideas pays off in the long-term, not just for the city, or the country, but the entire world. This investment comes from a mixture of private and public sources, and we need both to continue. We should never be in a position where Londoners fear that it is too costly to have creative ideas. It is these ideas that bring prosperity, and this is not a time to be lowering our ambitions. London’s arts and cultural organisations already do a great job at fundraising, but they can’t be expected to defy the laws of economic gravity in a prolonged downturn and in the face of necessary austerity measures. Creative thinking and innovation is vitally important to the health and wealth of this great city and that is exactly why I am advocating through my Cultural Strategy that continued support and investment in the creative economy is crucial to sustaining the wellbeing of London and the nation.
The Mayor’s strategy identifies priorities and concerns, and advocates for a partnership between the cultural sector and city government, ensuring coordination to address the major issues. The main focus of Cultural Metropolis includes:
- Maintaining London’s position as a world city for culture requires sustained investment and support
- Improving access and participation in high quality arts and cultural activities
- Increasing opportunity for young people who do not have access to cultural opportunities by building alliances between cultural institutions, schools, and local authorities
- Supporting London’s universities by providing a source of innovation and skills for the future workforce by working on the quality of internships and apprenticeships and encouraging volunteering.
- Developing measures in the city that encourage culture to flourish in festivals, artistic venues and public spaces
- Celebrating the city’s internationalism and diversity and welcome a government review of the new visa points-based system on the cultural sector
- Maximizing the cultural opportunities of London 2012
The previous cultural strategy published in 2004, London: Cultural Capital – Realising the potential of a world-class city, outlined for the first time a vision detailing the importance of supporting culture in London. Much progress has been made as a result and since 2008 the current mayor has been actively supporting the cultural life of London with several high profile projects including public art commissions, support for London Fashion Week, Notting Hill Carnival, Story of London and funding for major cultural projects including the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, the Lyric Hammersmith in West London, the Cutty Sark in Greenwich and Ravensbourne College in Greenwich.