Mayor to explore setting up Creative Land Trust

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is exploring plans for a Creative Land Trust to support London’s artists through affordable creative workspace across the capital.

Sadiq is working with a consortium of entrepreneurs and philanthropists, known as ‘Studiomakers’, to tackle what they see as the problem of rising rents in the capital to ensure that artists and creatives are able to flourish and help to maintain London’s status as the world’s cultural capital.

The Creative Land Trust will provide faster financing for studio providers looking to buy their buildings, and will be able to hold property for use as permanent affordable workspace for artists.

The Creative Land Trust is, says the Mayor, an innovative solution to finance affordable creative workspace in London. The Artists’ Workspace Study, commissioned in 2014, predicted the loss of 30 per cent of artists’ workspace in London by 2019 leaving some 3,500 creatives without workspace in the capital. The booming residential market and liberalisation of planning regulations have resulted in hundreds of artists being forced out of their workspaces and many out of the city, says the Mayor.

Similar models exist in other cities, notably San Francisco, where the ‘Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST)’ has begun to change the city’s cultural landscape. CAST builds the capacity of arts and cultural organisations in San Francisco to acquire affordable properties, offering access to funding or affordable rents.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “There are few if any places on earth that can rival our city for its creative industries. Culture is in the DNA of the capital but we cannot be complacent. As property prices rise and new areas of the city grow, artists are finding themselves unable to put down roots here.

“I am committed to improving access to dedicated, affordable workspace so that the next generation of creatives are given the extra support they require to flourish. I want the artists of tomorrow to be able to fulfil their potential and follow in the footsteps of their role models so that London can continue to be the cultural capital of the world.”

The creative industries contribute £32bn to London’s economy annually, representing one in six new jobs. They also contribute to London’s vibrancy, making London an attractive place to live and encouraging inward investment.

Artists and creatives working in clusters are the ‘research and development’ department of the creative economy, fostering collaborative communities and knowledge exchange. From cutting edge fashion company Studio XO to Turner Prize-nominee Nicole Wermers, affordable creative workspace is crucial to launching the capital’s best creative talent.

Research commissioned by Mayor of London and Arts Council England earlier this year looked at existing financing models for artists’ workspace provision and set out a number of recommendations, including the establishment of a central fund dedicated to securing affordable workspace.

The proposed Creative Land Trust will enable access to finance and soft loans to secure ownership for permanent creative workspace. It will ensure that rents for creative workspace are kept affordable in the long term. Firstly, there would be a loan fund to acquire workspace and secondly, the trust would look to protect buildings in perpetuity for use as affordable workspace. The trust will combine public funds, philanthropy and social impact investment.

Arts Council England and Outset Contemporary Art Fund are supporting the feasibility study into the Creative Land Trust fund to which Mayor of London has also contributed £30k.

Co-founder of Outset Contemporary Art Fund and Studiomakers, Candida Gertler OBE said: “Artists and creatives need affordable workspace in which to develop their ideas. As such, artists’ studios are far more than just physical places of work. Instead, they are economic and social hubs, with their own supply chains and communities. Artists’ studios are centres for creative exchange, education and mentoring. They also support new businesses, get local people involved and help develop a sense of community. Thus artists and creatives are the original social entrepreneurs.”

Joyce Wilson, London Director, Arts Council England, said: “Across England, artists are feeling the pressure of rising rents and lack of affordable space, but this is particularly severe in London. We cannot risk destabilising the creativity of our capital city. I’m pleased we have been able to support the Mayor of London’s plans, and look forward to the solutions this study will offer toward a more resilient future for the sector.”

Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons said: “Artists and creative people are like the advance party — they find the unusual places that no one sees much value in and they breathe life into them. We can’t underestimate the value they bring to the capital’s character, identity and success. The trick is to find a way to allow them to put down roots in the areas they have played such an important role in establishing – and not get displaced as prices rise.

“I’m really excited about the Creative Land Trust idea. If we get it right, it could go a long way to addressing this important issue by providing access to much needed finance to secure permanent spaces for the creative community.

“Over the coming months, we’ll be announcing further ways in which City Hall is supporting the capital’s creative community, including two firsts for London – a new Night Czar and a Creative Enterprise Zone.”

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