Livingstone talks up creative

London Mayor Ken Livingstone pulled the creative industries into the campaign debate for London’s next mayor on Monday, at the opening of the London Design Festival. Addressing design’s annual assembly at the Royal Festival Hall in London’s Southbank Centre, Livingstone pledged his support for the creative industries of the capital, suggesting they deserve greater priority than London’s financial services industry. Comparing the two sectors to others around the world, he asserted that, given the choice, ‘I’d rather that [London] be second in financial services and first in creative industries.

No one comes to look at a city for its bankers.’ ‘We will continue to build this annual celebration [the festival] and we will do all we can to get a better Design Museum, in a better location,’ the mayor continued. The London Development Agency is the key backer of the LDF and contributes an estimated £200 000 a year to its funding.

The mayor later played down comparisons between London’s creative and financial industries, telling Design Week, ‘If the creative industries are successful, it’s good for everyone: for Londoners, for visitors to the city, and for the financial services industry.’ His comments come ahead of the delayed publication of the LDA’s creative industries report, Working Paper 22 – London’s Creative Sector: 2007 Update, produced by GLA Economics.

The paper will report that total creative employment in London fell for three successive years between 2001 and 2005, providing more evidence of the sector’s sensitive cyclicality. Architect Zaha Hadid was presented with the inaugural London Design Medal by the mayor for her outstanding contribution to design. Following the opening ceremony, the Festival Hall then hosted the opening of this year’s Ross Lovegrovedesigned Design Embassy on the sixth floor of the complex. But the party was marred at the end of the night by what appears to have been a female gatecrasher who is alleged to have assaulted a 28-year-old male guest with a champagne glass after throwing its contents over his male companion.

The incident was not widely observed but left organisers shocked. The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that a female was arrested at the venue just before midnight and the injured man was taken to St Thomas’s Hospital. At the time of going to press the woman was still in custody, but had not been charged.

• Opened by Mayor Ken Livingstone at Royal Festival Hall
• Now in its fifth year, with an audience of 300 000 visitors
• More than 200 projects running from 17-23 September across London
• Organised by John Sorrell, William Knight and Ben Evans
• Funded by the London Development Agency

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