The art of inclusivity: Any path to a fairer economy should have culture at its heart

Catherine McGuinness
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Culture Mile will create a new creative destination in London (Source: Getty)
Culture and commerce have thrived alongside one another in the Square Mile for centuries, arguably since it was a bustling Roman port and commercial centre.

Today, the City of London is home to a number of world-leading cultural institutions, with an enviable reputation for artistic excellence and innovation.

You may be surprised to learn that the City Corporation is the fourth largest funder of culture in the UK, investing over £100m every year, and running a wide range of heritage assets, including Tower Bridge, London Metropolitan Archives, and Keats House. Engaging with the arts and culture can enrich people’s lives, and investment in this area can drive economic growth.

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And at the Labour party conference in Liverpool today, the City of London Corporation will host a roundtable to discuss the benefits for communities. Kevin Brennan MP, the shadow minister for arts, heritage and tourism, will speak at the event, which is held in partnership with the Fabian Society.

And there are big issues on the agenda, including one of the biggest cultural initiatives of recent years.

Culture Mile, which was launched last summer, is being led by the City Corporation with its four core partners: the Barbican Centre, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra, and the Museum of London.

This multi-million-pound investment will transform the north-west corner of the City – between Farringdon and Moorgate – over the next 10 to 15 years.

Culture Mile will create a new creative destination, with benefits including more events, better signage, improved links between venues, and major enhancements to the streets. It will reach out to schools and communities across London, strengthening our already thriving connections.

And the City Corporation is investing serious money in Culture Mile. We are providing £110m funding to support the Museum of London’s move to West Smithfield, and £2.5m to support a detailed business case for the proposed Centre for Music.

But it’s not all about the Square Mile. Communities across London and the UK benefit from these institutions. The completion of Crossrail’s Elizabeth Line and the development of Culture Mile will open up the City to new audiences and inspire the cultural leaders of tomorrow.

In its 2017 election manifesto, Labour pledged to introduce a £1bn Cultural Capital Fund. A fund such as this would upgrade our existing cultural and creative infrastructure to be fit for the digital age and invest in creative clusters across the UK. We stand ready to work with Labour to deliver this vision, and with all other politicians who put culture at the heart of their policies to develop a fairer, more inclusive economy

The UK is a world leader in arts and culture. Its creative industries are worth £92bn and employ over two million people.

These are impressive figures and strengthen our call for Labour and others to support not just the success of London as a world-leading cultural hub, but also to ensure that the UK’s cities receive the investment required to enable local creative industries to flourish.

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