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Press Release

The Mayor promotes culture as central to London's economic and social wealth
4-2-2003   049

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, has outlined the first co-ordinated strategic approach to arts, sport, heritage and creative industries in London, with the launch of London: Cultural Capital, a ten-year plan to develop London as a centre of cultural excellence and creativity. The document is the Mayor's draft Cultural Strategy, which he is required by law to produce.

The Mayor said: 'For too long London had no strategic body to champion its world-beating cultural attractions. London needs a strong voice to lobby, promote and ensure fairness in funding for all our cultural assets, and which embraces diversity and is available to all Londoners. I also want to support a sector that generates between £25 billion and £29 billion per annum, employs more than 500,000 people in the creative industries alone and is second only to financial services in the wealth it creates.

'I want to create the conditions to enable all London's communities to benefit and the creative and culture sectors to thrive. Working with the boroughs and other partner agencies, I propose to refocus the Cultural Strategy Group as a London cultural consortium to help deliver this vision for culture.'

The Mayor's plans include:

  • Investigating the viability of pilot Entertainment Management Zones, to improve the management of the night-time economy and impact of high levels of entertainment.
  • Initiatives to enable all Londoners to experience the capital's cultural resources, such as 'Get Into London Theatre' the discounted theatre tickets scheme which has sold over 50,000 reduced price tickets in it’s second year, and by offering free travel to cultural venues for schools.
  • Championing sport in the capital, including campaigns for Wembley and the Olympics; backing the Athletics Grand Prix at Crystal Palace; support for the London Marathon and the Special Olympics Torch Run through London.
  • Improving London’s infrastructure, including the upgrading of the South Bank Centre, Crystal Palace and Trafalgar Square, which is due to open as a major open-air venue in July, following pedestrianisation that will link the National Gallery to the square and bring significant improvements, including a café and toilet facilities.
  • Supporting London’s creative economy and its regeneration through the development of cultural quarters, for example by providing funding for the Laban Centre and Cockpit Arts in Lewisham through the London Development Agency.
  • Establishing a London cultural consortium by working with the Cultural Strategy Group and Cultural Partners for London to create a single voice for culture in London.
  • Creating a Black and Asian Heritage Commission to identify key issues and make recommendations for increasing opportunities for communities to explore and assert their heritage.
  • The Mayor also supports cultural activities that reflect and celebrate the contribution of London's diverse communities, including Chinese New Year, Diwali, Mayor's Thames Festival, St Patrick's Day, Mardi Gras and respect, the largest anti-racist festival in Europe.

He said that London's cultural life could contribute to social cohesion and it was essential that all Londoners were able to actively participate.

'Cultural and creative activity brings people together and has unique potential to address some of our most difficult social problems. London is growing fast and becoming more prosperous, but far too many of its citizens are socially excluded. Cultural excellence and quality will only be achieved by ensuring that all Londoners, whoever they are and wherever they live, are represented in the cultural life of the city.'


Culture is a major force in London bringing significant economic and social benefits to the city.  The members of the Mayor's Cultural Strategy Group are absolutely committed to the Mayor's vision for culture as expressed in the draft culture strategy.  We intend to work closely with the Mayor and other partners in ensuring its successful implementation.

Jennette Arnold
Chair of Mayor’s Cultural Strategy Group
and London Assembly Member 

The draft Culture Strategy is an important milestone for culture in London. It represents the first time that a democratically elected government for London has published a strategy about the development of culture in this amazing city.

Culture is an enormously important part of the life of all Londoners, and is critical to London’s world status. As the Mayor states in his introduction to the strategy, culture is a leading economic sector in the city as well as a crucial force for bringing people together and tackling social exclusion. But there is much work to do to sustain, enhance and extend London’s cultural life. It is very positive to see this reflected in the strategy and being developed and integrated into all of the work of the GLA and its family of agencies.

Cultural Partners for London is happy to endorse the priorities of Excellence, Creativity, Access and Value and I am especially pleased to see such prominence given to cultural diversity and equity.

Lady Sue Hollick
Cultural Partners for London 

The Cultural Strategy for London is timely and inspiring. It has a vision for London that will enable all its communities to share the wealth of creative talent that exists here, and to benefit from the rich diversity of our cultures. I am particularly happy to see that filmmaking is to get the support and encouragement it needs.

Joan Bakewell
Writer and broadcaster

There been a need for a single cultural industry strategy for London for years. The Film Council will now be working with the GLA as a committed partner in developing film in the capital. The draft Cultural Strategy is an important move in that direction.

John Woodward
Chief Executive Officer
Film Council

The development of a cultural strategy for London is vital to its success. And given the astonishing diversity of this world city, cultural institutions need to think together to create a better framework for the future.

Sandy Nairne
National Portrait Gallery

I should like to offer my strong support for Mayor Ken Livingstone’s initiative 'London: Culture Capital'. The quality of life in our City is directly affected by the quality of our environment, the buildings, the public infrastructure, the streets, the parks and open spaces. Encouraging creative solutions to improve our environment through innovative and ecologically responsible architecture, rich cultural initiatives and the creation of traffic-free spaces where cultural activities can be enjoyed by all will continue to mark London as an international centre of cultural excellence.

Lord Foster of Thames Bank OM

The Society of London Theatre and Theatrical Management Association welcome the Mayor's initiative in publishing this important document. We look forward to working with the Mayor and his office in developing specific proposals for improving and extending the theatre-going experience for audiences of all kinds. The Mayor's current 'Get Into London Theatre' campaign, mounted jointly with the Society of London Theatre, is an excellent example of a highly effective collaboration with the theatre world.

Richard Pulford
Chief Executive
Society of London Theatre and Theatrical Management Association

A Culture Strategy for London will help to provide sports organisations with pan-London strategic guidance at both a regional and sub-regional level. I particularly welcome that the strategy recognises that access to culture should be the right of all Londoners.  Working strategically, we will create and support innovative, inclusive solutions to ensure that individuals have the opportunity to reach their chosen potential.'

Ian Steele
London Active Partnership 

London Sports Forum for Disabled People welcomes the strategic approach suggested by the draft strategy and the Mayor's commitment to support the improvement of access and increased participation in sport, especially by those people who have traditionally been excluded from cultural activities.

We feel that a strategic approach is essential to increasing access to sport in its widest sense so that all relevant organisations can work together to remove the social and logistical barriers to improve community participation in sports opportunities. We would also like to see the themes of inclusion developed and emphasised further. The Mayor has the opportunity to promote inclusion of disabled people in culture so that they have opportunities to enjoy mainstream cultural activity - as is their right - alongside non-disabled people rather than as a segregated group.

Angus Robertson
Chief Executive
London Sports Forum for Disabled People



Notes to Editors

  1. The Mayor is required to produce a cultural strategy for London and was assisted in its development by the Cultural Strategy Group, chaired by Assembly Member Jennette Arnold and including representatives of organisations involved in the delivery of cultural activity in the capital.
  2. As well as the Mayor and Jennette Arnold, speakers at the launch of London: Cultural Capital included Lady Sue Hollick, Chair of Cultural Partners for London and London Regional Arts Council; National Gallery Director Charles Saumarez-Smith; Lord Norman Warner, Chair of Sport England London Region; musician John Pandit from Asian Dub Foundation and Professor Lola Young, Head of Culture at the Greater London Authority.
  3. The strategy will now be subject to scrutiny by the Assembly, before the public consultation period begins in May. The draft culture strategy will be designed by young design company Spin and will incorporate a range of new commissions in partnership with the Photographers Gallery and other artists and writers. The start of the public consultation will be marked by a special event at City Hall in partnership with Serious, international producers of jazz, world and contemporary music.
  4. The London Development Agency works on behalf of the Mayor and is the business-led job creation and economic regeneration agency for the capital, investing in new jobs and skills for Londoners, supporting businesses and bringing derelict land back into use. It has invested £3 million in the Laban Centre, which reopens this week.
  5. Cultural Partners for London is a partnership of cultural agencies in London consisting of Association of London Government, English Heritage (London region), Heritage Lottery Fund (London region), London Archives Regional Council, London Arts, London Film Commission, London Film and Video Development Agency, London International Sport, London Museums Agency, London Libraries Development Agency, Sport England (London region), London Tourist Board and Convention Bureau, and Community Fund (London).
  6. Members of the press wishing to receive preview copies of the draft strategy should contact the Mayor's press office.

For further information contact Ben McKnight on 020 7983 4071/07881 501 920

For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000

For non-media enquiries please call the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100

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