London Mayor Boris Johnson has pledged to help the capital’s creative sector survive in the economic downturn, by unveiling a series of measures aimed at encouraging growth over the next four years.
Speaking about today’s launch of his plan, Cultural Metropolis: The Mayor’s Priorities for Culture 2009-2012, Johnson says, ‘There are tough times ahead, but I am committed to helping the cultural sector cope.’
He adds, ‘We will look at how to target business and training support to creative industries, and we need to make sure red tape and funding pressures do not obstruct artistic progress, especially for smaller grassroots organisations.’
Johnson has also revealed plans for The Story of London, a major celebration of the city’s people, and its past, present and future, to take place across the capital in June 2009.
The document also says the 2012 Olympic Games should be treated as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a cultural legacy, through projects such as art commissions in the Olympic Park.
Johnson says, ‘I want to maintain the capital’s status as one of the great world cities for culture and creativity. My 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.
‘I want to see better access and provision for people in the outer boroughs, where it can be very patchy. And we must capitalise on the opportunities offered by the 2012 Games to create a cultural legacy for all Londoners.’
The launch of the plan coincides with the first meeting of the London Cultural Strategy Group, chaired by Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick, which will advise the Mayor on the development of his cultural strategy.