LONDON.- The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has called on government and private industry not to turn away from the arts and to continue supporting the capitals vibrant arts scene as he launched his Cultural Strategy at City Hall.
The capital has long been a magnet for talent, new ideas and artistic excellence and as the reality of public funding cuts takes hold, the Mayor is calling on government and business not to forget that Londons creative economy currently generates £18bn a year vital revenues that the capital and country cannot afford to lose.
On the worldwide stage, London is one of the most significant centres of cultural, artistic and intellectual life, with unrivalled collections of art, libraries, historical artefacts and architecture stretching across centuries and continents. At the same time, the city sets cutting-edge trends in contemporary culture, attracting the best and brightest of the worlds talent in the arts, fashion, film, publishing, design, music and theatre. Their work goes a huge way to attracting 15m visitors a year to London almost as much as New York and Paris combined.
Today the Mayor sent a clear message to national and local government that there is only so much philanthropy the sector can rely on and that we simply cannot sit back and expect private sponsorship to expand exponentially to plug funding shortfalls in the arts. This is especially important in the run-up to 2012, when London will be the focus of the world, and must be able to fully showcase its creative strengths.
Boris Johnson said: 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.
Londons arts and cultural organisations already do a great job at fundraising, but they cant 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.
Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries said: Londons world leading culture draws visitors from all over the world. We have outstanding museums, galleries and theatres, which makes London a great place to live, work and visit.
Londons creative influence generates opportunities across the country. The forthcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games is a clear example of this. Not only does 2012 provide a perfect platform to showcase London to the world, but it presents an opportunity to improve the lives of people in London and beyond. I look forward to working with the Mayor to support his ambitious cultural goals.
Launched today, the Mayors Cultural Strategy recognises the significance of the cultural sector in ensuring that London remains one of the great world cities, at a time of economic uncertainty and rapid change. The Mayors strategy identifies priorities and concerns, and advocates working in partnership across the cultural sector and London government, providing coordination to address the major issues. His focus is on:
- Maintaining Londons position as a world city for culture
- Widening the reach to excellence
- Ensuring opportunities through education, skills and careers
- Improving the public realm, physical infrastructure and environment
- And, maximising the cultural opportunities of London 2012
The Mayor has been actively supporting the cultural life of London since being elected in 2008. High-profile projects that the GLA works on include:
- Major public art commissions in the Olympic Park, including the Arcelor Mittal Orbit: Construction has already started on what will be the tallest sculpture of its kind in the UK, designed by Anish Kapoor for the Olympic Park with £19m sponsorship from ArcelorMittal.
- Co-ordinating the Cultural Olympiad in London; organising a city-wide festival across the city's parks, streets and public spaces.
- The 4th Plinth Programme: A world-class art programme in Trafalgar Square reflecting Londons status as an international centre for contemporary art.
- Improving cultural education for young people in the capital: delivering a new Music Education Strategy to improve the quality and consistency of provision across London; supporting supplementary education in deprived areas of London.
- The Culture Diary: an online tool co-ordinating essential city planning and promotional activities in 2012.
- Delivering a world class cultural events programme across the city, including support for festivals as diverse as London Fashion Week, Notting Hill Carnival, Story of London and the London Jazz Festival.
- Big Dance: a biennial celebratory festival of dance, in which more than a million people took part in July 2010.
- Supporting the growth of the creative industries and working with them on areas like carbon reduction.
- 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.
- Challenging over-regulation that stifles the cultural sector, for example, lobbying government about the impact of the visa-points system on visiting foreign artists.
- £220m investment in public realm improvements, including many cultural spaces such as Exhibition Road in South Kensington.
10 Facts about Londons Cultural Sector:10 Facts about Londons Cultural Sector:
- There are more than 32,000 music performances a year in London 621 a week, 17% of which are free.
- London has four UNESCO world heritage sites: Tower of London, Maritime Greenwich, Westminster Palace, Kews Royal Botanic Gardens.
- London has 40,000 listed buildings and over 150 ancient monuments.
- London has 22 national museums and more than 200 other museums.
-London has twelve specialist arts and culture Higher Education Institutes.
- Londons 395 public libraries stock 17 million books.
- The Tate Modern is the worlds most popular modern art gallery.
- There are more than 900 bookshops in London twice as many as New York.
- There were 14,350 film shooting days in London in 2007, making it the third most filmed city in the world.
- There are more than 17,000 theatrical performances per year, and more than 50 theatres in Londons West End.