Johnson backs arts

Reporter: Caroline Bishop, first published Mon 15 Nov 2010 14:54
Boris Johnson with Camilla Dallerup at the launch of Big Dance 2010/servlet/file/store5/item111302/version1/fileservice770/111302_770_preview.jpg

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has sent a strong message of support to the arts today with the unveiling of a cultural strategy calling for continued investment in culture by government and business.

Entitled Cultural Metropolis, the strategy sets out the Mayor’s vision, priorities and recommendations for strengthening London’s cultural life, a sector which currently generates £18 billion a year. It comes just weeks after the government’s spending review which resulted in a cut to Arts Council England’s budget of nearly 30%.

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.”

Johnson added that arts organisations in the capital “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.”

Johnson’s strategy identifies several priorities, including: widening the reach of culture by improving services in outer London boroughs and increasing access and participation; ensuring opportunities through education and careers; supporting urban planning to encourage culture to flourish in public spaces; and maximising the cultural opportunities offered by the London 2012 Olympics, which will see the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad with a 12-week festival across the UK in summer 2012.

In order to deliver the strategy, the Greater London Authority (GLA) intends to work in partnership with arts organisations, local councils and bodies including the London Cultural Improvement Programme and the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Board.

Moira Sinclair, London Executive Director of Arts Council England, commented: “I’m delighted to have been involved in the shaping of this strategy on behalf of the Arts Council and the organisations we support, and hope this sets out a framework that will see the arts continue to thrive in the capital.”