WIDENING THE REACH TO CULTURAL EXCELLENCE

Despite the richness of London’s arts and culture, and its importance to the lives of Londoners, it remains a concern that it is not evenly distributed and enjoyed. This is a particular problem in the  outer London boroughs which share a set of distinct

challenges around audience development, recognition and resources. The Mayor has worked with Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund

to address these challenges. Many of the cultural activities associated with the 2012 Games were designed so that all Londoners could take part. For example, Showtime, the city’s largest ever outdoor arts festival, presented over 1,500 shows over seven weeks in every London borough, all for free.

The success of the 2012 Games also gave an impetus for tackling well-documented barriers  for disabled people. The Mayor’s Liberty Festival,

a showcase of work by Deaf and disabled visual and performing artists, was awarded the Gold standard by Attitude is Everything for reaching the highest level in its Charter of Best Practice. Building on this, the Mayor is taking a lead in ensuring that

all his future cultural events are similarly inclusive and accessible.

Despite budgetary pressures, the Mayor has maintained a substantial programme of events and festivals. Annual celebrations for St Patrick’s Day, Eid, Chinese New Year and the Thames Festival continue alongside new developments like Shubbak, the festival of contemporary Arab arts and culture. London’s success as a major cultural centre depends upon its world-class transport and the Mayor is continually working to improve the system for residents and visitors. Coach travel in the capital is a long-standing problem and the Mayor has increased parking

capacity, making it easier for coach drivers to drop  off visitors outside venues. Additionally, the Mayor has made major investments in schemes like Crossrail and has expanded the London Overground. This means that it is now much easier to access venues like

Theatre Royal Stratford East, the Orange Tree theatre in Richmond, Hackney Empire, the Roundhouse and the Horniman Museum.

The Mayor recognises the role of London’s boroughs as key investors and supporters of culture, offering residents highly valued cultural services in the face of funding pressures. This is particularly true for public libraries. The Mayor supported them through the Love Libraries initiative, which has led to almost 4,000 people registering to volunteer in London’s libraries, providing 50,000 hours of volunteering time.

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