There has been a genuine air of excitement among my City colleagues over the last couple of weeks. And a few days ago, we went public about the cause for celebration.
Its name is Culture Mile.
Standing on a podium at the Guildhall School’s Milton Court, I joined colleagues from four of the UK’s most respected arts organisations to reveal how we plan to transform the north-west corner of the City of London.
Led by the City of London Corporation, together with the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra, and Museum of London, we will create a major destination for culture and creativity in the heart of the Square Mile, stretching just under a mile from Farringdon to Moorgate. Covering just 45 hectares, it’s a small area, but we’ve got big plans for it.
We believe that Culture Mile will send a signal to the world that London is – and will always be – a welcoming, open, and resolutely internationalist city.
Alongside commerce, culture has been at the heart of the City for centuries and now, more than ever, it is vital to the UK economy and our position in the world.
Over the next 10 to 15 years, the five partners behind Culture Mile will work together to transform the area and improve their offer to audiences with imaginative collaborations, outdoor programming, and events seven days a week. You can expect better signage, new measures to improve air quality, lighting, way-finding, public information and green spaces, as well as improved access to and between cultural venues.
It is hoped that three major building projects will enhance Culture Mile’s potential scale and ambition.
First, the Museum of London has a £250m plan to relocate to the site of a derelict Victorian market building in West Smithfield.
Second, there is the proposed Centre for Music on the current site of the Museum of London. More landmarks than buildings, these projects represent thrilling additions to the City’s cultural offer – a world-class, state-of-the-art museum that tells London’s history, and a visually striking and acoustically perfect concert hall, with learning at its core, under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle.
And third, Beech Street, next to the Barbican, will undergo major enhancements, making it less polluted and more welcoming for pedestrians and cyclists.
Crossrail’s Elizabeth Line connections at Farringdon and Moorgate, which open in December next year, will make it easier to travel to and from the City.
Around 1.5m additional visitors a year will be within a 45 minute journey of the area when the Elizabeth Line becomes fully operational in December 2019 and the North-South Thameslink line is upgraded. Farringdon will be the only place where Underground, Thameslink and Crossrail interlink, and will become one of the busiest stations in the UK.
As one of the country’s largest funders of cultural activities, the City of London Corporation stands firmly behind Culture Mile and I am very confident that you will want to be part of it.