Although a lot of pandemic recovery talk about the City of London has focused on the empty offices and unsold sandwiches in corner shops, the city also has a large creative sector that’s been badly hit as well. It’s a feature of the City that’s often overlooked when reporting on how the pandemic has affected the creative sector, where the news lingers on empty West End theatres and artists.
Apart from the three big obvious sites, of the Barbican Art Centre, the Guildhall Art Gallery and the Museum of London, the City of London hosts a substantial amount of creative events, from the public to private art installations, a number of smaller museums and galleries, and big public events.
The provision of art in the heart of commerce is enlightened self-interest. Free footed business people like to live and work in a pleasing environment, so supporting the arts is not just to support the people who make the art, but to make the City a more appealing place to work, and brings in the deep-pocketed investors to work there.
A new report commissioned by the City of London looks at how the City cultural and creative sectors can recover after the pandemic.
It’s essentially a wide-ranging call for action by the cultural, civic and commercial sectors across London to work together to ensure the medium-term recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.
It calls for more “significant, visible creative activities to attract footfall” as a way of encouraging visitors back to the City, not just local workers but social visits at weekends. Moves to create a large culture centre at Farringdon with the move of the Museum of London and likely vacating of the neighbouring site by Smithfields will help in the regard.
The report also calls for more digital culture but warns about giving it away for free, as many venues have over during the pandemic. Digital content does have the advantage of reaching a much wider audience and is a good way for venues to expand their audience. If the City wants to bring people back to the Square Mile, then increased digital content is likely to end up as advert for the City than an end in its own.
Overall, the report is quite high level, with lots of good intentions, but rather fewer concrete actions to be taken.
But it has outlined ten key ideas to start with and is now looking for people to bring them into existence.
The report is here.