“With the PM’s guidance to work from home, footfall on our high streets is also way down.” But fellow member of the Barbican Centre Board, Jenny Waldman, rightly emphasises in the Evening Standard that visiting museums can help. She references a report by Arts Council England revealing that 75% of buildings used by arts organisations are either on or within a 5-minute walk of a high street, adding that “culture is embedded in the high street, supporting local economies and community cohesion.”
Indeed a remarkable 55% of the population in England live within walking distance of at least one museum – and more than that in London, which has more museums per person than anywhere else in the UK.
Culture Mile – creating a cultural district in the heart of London
The Square Mile is home to world-renowned cultural institutions such as the Museum of London and the Barbican Centre. As a board member of both cultural icons I’m determined to ensure we protect London’s position as capital of both culture and commerce.
A key part of the City’s strategy is the Culture Mile – a multi-million pound investment project to transform an area from Farringdon to Moorgate into a new cultural district, an arts hub to be a catalyst for change across the rest of the Square Mile.
With the devastating impact of Covid19 it is now more important than ever for the City Corporation to play it’s role and invest in London’s position as both a world-class cultural destination and a leading global financial and professional services centre.
Culture & Commerce Taskforce
This is why the newly formed Culture and Commerce Taskforce, chaired by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, William Russell – set up to tackle the ‘cultural catastrophe’, caused by COVID-19 and faced by the creative sector both in the City and across London – is so important.
Senior leaders from a range of sectors, including financial and professional services, tech firms and cultural organisations will meet over the next three months to develop new ways in which London’s cultural and commercial sectors can work together to support creative businesses and maintain London’s competitive advantage as a global business hub. You can find more information on its work here.
A thriving cultural sector: Creating jobs and supporting our economy
Prior to the pandemic, the creative sector was a major part of the economy. The City of London welcomed 21 million visitors in 2019, spending £2.1 billion, supporting 1,800 businesses and 20,000 jobs and the UK’s wider creative sector was growing at five times the rate of the wider economy.
It is estimated that the creative industries will be hit twice as hard as the wider economy in 2020, with a projected GVA shortfall of £29 billion. London will be hardest hit with a £14.8 billion drop in GVA, and more than a quarter of total job losses, totalling in excess of 110,000 workers.
Cultural and creative industries play a key role in the commercial success of all sectors – fuelling innovation, stimulating creativity, supporting well-being and developing fusion skills across the business ecosystem, as well as being a driving factor for attracting workers to work in the City. When we invest in our culture, we invest in our communities and our economy.
Indeed, as Jenny Waldman puts it “culture is embedded in the high street, supporting local economies and community cohesion.”