Monday 24 February 2020 4:07 am

Culture complements commerce, so let’s celebrate the City’s thriving artistic scene

William Russell is Lord Mayor of London.

As lord mayor of the City of London, my role is primarily business-focused.

But I am also passionate about arts and culture, and with so much of it on our doorstep, Londoners are truly fortunate.

In fact, championing culture is a key part of my mayoral theme. And to underline its importance, I am looking forward to welcoming major players from the industry to the Mansion House — today, and then in April and September — for three unique debates.

Each event will be a meeting of minds, an opportunity for leading figures of the UK’s cultural sector to air their views, discussing them not only with each other, but crucially with our invited audience.

The City of London Corporation, which I am proud to head, and the Genesis Foundation, which champions the work of promising young creatives, are working together on this series of “cultural conversations” to celebrate arts and culture in the City.

Today, I look forward to joining the audience to enjoy the discussions generated by these cultural issues, specifically on the theme of art for social change . 

Of course, there is more to follow. In April, we will debate arts and culture’s role in architecture, innovation, and placemaking — for which we have attracted speakers from some of the most illustrious cultural institutions in London. And come September, we will look at philanthropy and the arts.

These events will show how the arts are a major driver for social and economic change, and how cultural engagement has the power to help us all rethink and frame our values and behaviour.

Together, we are reminding everyone of the importance of a culturally diverse City, and our combined commitment to supporting this flourishing sector.

According to the most recent figures, the UK’s creative industries generate over £101bn a year for the economy. Exports of creative services and goods alone are worth £50bn. 

For our part, the City Corporation invests over £100m every year in heritage and cultural activities of all kinds, including widening access and participation in the sector.

This is serious money, and it helps ensure London’s position as an open, vibrant and culturally rich city. It is hardly surprising, then, that so many people are attracted to living in, working in, and visiting the capital.

Our arts sector promotes a rich and vibrant creative economy, and showcases the City, London, and the whole of the UK as a major destination for business. 

We should be immensely proud of all that it offers — which is why, with the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra, and the Museum of London, we have been developing Culture Mile, a new home for contemporary culture in the north-west of the City.

We are redefining the City of London, so that it becomes known and admired as much for being a world-class cultural and artistic destination as for its position as a leading global financial centre.

Culture complements commerce — and now more than ever, the arts are vital to the UK economy and our position in the world.

Main image credit: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.