Boris Johnson will today set out wide ranging plans to broaden the availability of arts and culture in the capital. The Mayor’s vision for culture in the capital is set out in a new policy paper, Cultural Metropolis, which is published today.
Central to Johnson’s plans is an increase in the provision of arts and culture in outer London which he says can currently be “very patchy”and improving music education for young people. The Mayor’s Director of Culture Policy, Munira Mirza, said she wanted young people “to get every opportunity to experience culture, to understand it, and to know it is for them.”
Next June the Mayor’s office will sponsor The Story of London, a major pan-London celebration of Londoners and the capital’s past, present and future. There will also be “re-shaping” of events in Trafalgar Square.
Publication of Cultural Metropolis has been timed to coincide with the first meeting of the London Cultural Strategy Group which will advise Johnson on cultural initiatives in the capital. Chair Iwona Blazwick commented: “The Cultural Metropolis plan offers a wealth of ideas to nurture and enhance artistic excellence. I want us to maximise the once in a lifetime opportunities that 2012 will bring and to see improved access to culture right across the capital.”
Johnson has also called for the 2012 Olympic games to provide London with a lasting cultural legacy through the commission of new art projects.
Mr Johnson says he wants to “maintain the capital’s status as one of the great world cities for culture and creativity” and says his job “is not to back heritage over modernism, nor to allow the destruction of much-loved old buildings. It is to encourage all manner of artistic expression, in the knowledge that culture is not just an add-on to the necessity of modern politics.”
Today’s document also highlights the risk to local museums and libraries from funding cuts and promises support for community arts groups which are finding it harder to attract financial support in the current economic downturn.
There’s praise for the culture policies of predecessor Ken Livingstone, who the document says “deserves credit” for taking the arts sector seriously and establishing the GLA’s programme of free public events.
The document also commits Johnson to continued support of the Fourth Plinth project which exhibits new art pieces on Trafalgar Square’s empty plinth. There’s also a commitment to continue with the current Trafalgar Square festivals such as Chinese New Year and St. Patrick’s plus a commitment to look at events celebrating other parts of the world.
Copies of Cultural Metropolis – The Mayor’s Priorities for Culture 2009-2012 can be downloaded from www.london.gov.uk.