Economic growth carries risk for culture and creativity, says report

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The economic success of London may be coming at a cost to the culture and creativity of the city. This is the warning in a report by the World Cities Culture Forum, a network of 27 cities, including London, that share research to help develop policy.

In its 2015 report, published to coincide with a summit meeting in London, it says that the capital’s growth poses significant challenges with pressure on housing and transport, and many people priced out of the city centre.

As reported by Urbs, the affordability of housing means younger people, in particular, find trouble finding a place to live, with many moving back in with parents after finishing higher education.

The report observes that the rising cost of living makes it very difficult for those working in the creative industries to find not only a home but also a space to work. It says, “For some years, places like London and New York have been replacing studios with apartments, artists with bankers. Estimates suggest that in the next four years, London will lose around 30% of its current artists’ workspace.”

The forum says that the emergence of ‘tech city’ in East London in the 1990s demonstrated the value of low cost workspace. Without it cities are prevented form nurturing radical and provocative ideas.

According to data analysis by the WCCF, London has the highest proportion of people working in the creative industries of any of its 27 city members. It says that 16.2% of the London workforce is in the creative industries, according to data from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

creative industries employment

Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies at the LSE says, “The contribution of London’s creative industries to national productivity 
and its ability to attract young and global workforce are central to its survival as a world city.”


Surveys have shown that people globally rate London highly as a city to come to work, as previously reported by Urbs. The cultural and creative life of the city plays a part in their decision.

The report says that while some cities are now making low cost work space a priority they are failing to solve the problem of affordable housing for their artists, producers and young creative talent.

London data

World Cities Culture Forum 2015 report

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