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

See also

Where in the world would you like to work?

London leads Europe but lags behind US as tech start up base, says survey



Where the arts-loving Londoners live – not in Newham

hLondon enjoys an international reputation as a city of arts and culture. The museums,  art galleries and West End musicals are packed but are they all tourists or are locals making use of the capital’s rich cultural offering?

A nationwide survey by local authorities suggests that Londoners are generally an arts friendly bunch.  62% said they attended 3 or more arts events in the past year. That’s a touch below the national average.  But a higher proportion of Londoners make use of galleries and museums than people in other areas of England.  London has a huge selection of museums and galleries and 59% said they had visited one in the past 12 months.

London benefits disproportonately from spending on the arts.  A well-regarded indepdendent report Rebalancing our Cultural Capital, published in autumn 2013 found that spending per head in the previous year was £68.99 in London and £4.58 for the rest of England. This included funding from the Arts Council and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.  The record of lottery money allocation for the arts shows a similar pro-London bias. From 1995 to 2013  it was £165 per head in London and £46.77 in the rest of England.

Across London there are some wide variations in the engagement with the arts. The people of Haringey appear to be the keenest in the capital  Over 80% said they went to 3 or more arts event.  In comparison it is just 18% in Newham.

80% of adults in Kensington and Chelsea have been to a museum or gallery in the past year, and Westminster and Barnet are not far behind.  In Harrow and Barking they are far less interested.

Londoners make more use of libraries than people in England generally.  46% had used a library in the previous 12 months compared to 39% for the rest of the country.  Once again there are variations between boroughs.  Residents in Bromley and Haringey love their libraries and are 3 time more likely to use them than people in Newham, Southwark or Hammersmith and Fulham.  The provision of libraries is broadly similar across these boroughs (9 – 14 establishments) but is lower in Hammersmith and Fulham, which has 6 public libraries.

Source data

The active participation survey is done every 2 years and the most recent data available is for 2012-13.