(UK) London and South East England – understanding the region
London is a leading global city, with strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and transport all contributing to its prominence. It is the world’s leading financial centre alongside New York City and has been described as a world cultural capital. It is the world’s most-visited city measured by international arrivals and in 2012, London became the first city to host the modern Summer Olympic Games three times.
London has a diverse range of peoples and cultures, and more than 300 languages are spoken within its boundaries. In March 2011, London had an official population of 8,174,100, making it the most populous municipality in the European Union and accounting for 12.5% of the UK population. The latest census reveals white Britons as minority in London for first time in modern times. Famous landmarks include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, and The Shard. London is home to numerous museums, galleries, libraries, sporting events and other cultural institutions, including the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, British Library and 40 West End theatres.
These documents provide information about policy, practice and critical review of community, arts and cultural work in the UK and have a particular focus on London:
1. Making Adaptive Resilience Real (p.27-32) Characteristics of resilient arts organisations and sectors
This document explores how the arts can respond to changes in politics, society and the economy, as well as the evolutionary nature of arts development. As we enter a period of uncertainty and arguably, austerity, in the UK, cultural and community organisations have had to respond to the changes both to develop practice but also to survive as practitioners and organisations. During our study trip we will be hearing about different ways organisations have evolved.
2. Greater London Council (Introduction)
The GLC played an important role in recognising the role of community and participatory arts in addressing issues in society. It invested heavily in a range of often very radical work and provided an opportunity for significant growth in the community arts sector in London. It is a long document but read the introduction to get a feel for what was being created.
This is a good summary of the range of arts and health work being undertaken in the UK. This is still being seen as an area in growth and there is an increasing body of research exploring the role the arts has on health and wellbeing.
London’s local authority still has an active arts strategy. However it will be interesting to hear how you feel to what extent the GLC’s legacy of investing in community arts still remains or whether a new approach to using culture is emerging.
5. Localism Act (plain English version) pg 12-14
The Act is an important piece of recent legislation, which places greater emphasis on local people’s involvement in issues and decision making at a local community level. It has the potential to influence all community services, however critics suggest that it a vehicle for the state to invest less in community development. As community services are being scaled back in London and the rest of the UK, it will be interesting during the study trip to see how you feel the Localism Bill is impacting people’s lives.