Arts and the City are bound together in the interests of our wider society

Roger Gifford
THROUGHOUT its history the Square Mile has always been about far more than just business. It is also part of London, part of wider society, and contributes to the life of the broader community in creating an environment conducive to serving and supporting business.

Key to this is the City of London’s role as a leading centre for arts and culture. We are fortunate to have some of the most talented organisations and individuals in this field right on our doorstep.

As one of the largest supporters of the arts and culture in the country, the City of London Corporation funds facilities as diverse as the Barbican and the Museum of London. We do so because these organisations have a positive impact on our common quality of life. And we do our best to make as much as possible available to as many as possible through partnership with other London boroughs.

As well as the social benefits of widening horizons and raising aspiration, the City arts and culture cluster also delivers tangible economic output. A new report demonstrates that it creates an impressive additional £291m to the economy and supports 7,200 jobs across London.

This underscores the economic and business case for investing in the arts and culture. But City institutions also invest in this area because they recognise the positive benefits to the wider society of which they are part. It is investment and return that cannot be simply captured on a spread sheet or an analysis of value for money.

Far more than this, it is about public good – and the good society – over the long term. This takes many forms. It might be through patronage: commissioning artwork, supporting artists or sponsoring major exhibitions – all ventures that would be impossible without corporate support.

Or it might be long-term philanthropy – endowing foundations to support the arts and artists, now and in the future. This is a tradition drawn on for this year’s Lord Mayor’s Appeal, with the main beneficiary a new charity, the City Music Foundation, supporting talented young musicians at the start of their careers and helping them to fulfil their potential. It is in harmony with the City’s cultural ambitions.

In recent times, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama has played its part in shaping the future careers of two great British cultural figures: Daniel Craig and Daniel Radcliffe, who played James Bond and Harry Potter respectively.

This just goes to show the City is not solely a place where professionals come to ply their trade. The Square Mile has always been home to a diverse cluster, with the arts and culture continuing to be a key component.

Roger Gifford is lord mayor of the City of London.