Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, emphasised the importance of culture in modern day cities at the Capital West London Growth Summit yesterday.
Simons said that Sadiq Khan was the first Mayor of London to prioritise culture, and that the GLA were determined to keep it at the heart of their policy.
She said: “London is leading a global trend which is that culture in cities has been repositioned as mainstream and embedded in city life. If cities want to be successful in the 21st century they can’t do it without culture.
“Culture builds a human connection in an increasingly disconnected world.”
Simons went on to say that in this globally competitive time, and with Brexit looming large on the horizon, creative industry jobs are increasingly important, pointing out that they are “at the lowest risk for replacement by automation.”
She also revealed that Hounslow and Harrow are among 25 London Boroughs that have applied for new Creative Enterprise Zones – due to be announced by the GLA shortly.
“I’m delighted that Brent will be Brough of Culture for 2020,” she added. “They showed us how much talent, creativity and imagination they have here and I’d encourage you all to get involved and ensure that Brent Borough of Culture is a huge success for West London.”
Culture and the creative industries were an ongoing theme in the subsequent panel debate with Brent leader Muhammed Butt, Carole-Anne Upton, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean, The Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, Middlesex University and Matthew McMillan, Development Director, Boxpark.
Cllr Butt said that Brent were determined to capitalise on their successful Borough of Culture bid.
“When we explained our bid, people from a range of diverse backgrounds got it and joined in,” he said. “And that’s where the tangible benefits come in – things like footfall in retail areas.
“We will have failed if people don’t join in. The more people we have involved, the more ideas we have, the more we deliver, and the more we will succeed.”
McMillan is hoping the new Boxpark that is due top open at Wembley Park next month can play its part. “We deliver spaces which tell a story. We are a cultural organisation,” he said.
Upton talked about the global interest in the creative industries across West London and specifically the work carried out at Middlesex University.
“It is a privilege to lead a faculty of creative arts,” she said. “There is a massive demand for students and employers around the world interested in the innovation and creativity we produce.
“Diversity is a really important part of our curriculum, working with people who bring different perspectives to the room.”