ADD344 London Festival of Architecture 2015

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Code: 
ADD344
Date signed: 
07 October 2015
Decision by: 
Debbie Jackson, Assistant Director of Regeneration

Executive summary

The London Festival of Architecture is an annual city-wide celebration of architecture and architectural talent in the capital. It brings architects and communities together to examine how to make London a better place. It highlights the unique pool of creative talent that London has to offer and promotes London as a leading international centre of learning and creativity. The aims of the Festival align well with Mayoral priorities and with specific objectives in the Economic Development Strategy and Cultural Strategy.

This request to confirm the GLA funding to support the Festival which took place during the month of June 2015 and ensure a sustainable future for the festival, to reflect our ongoing role as a key partner. The Greater London Authority has supported the festival over the previous years (DD869 in 2012, ADD11 in 2013 and ADD187 in 2014).

Decision

That the Assistant Director of Regeneration approve grant expenditure of £20,000 to support the London Festival of Architecture Ltd (LFAL) as a contribution to its costs of holding the London Festival of Architecture 2015

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

London is the capital of culture and our creative industries contribute £19 billion a year to our economy. There are over 10,000 architects in London, many of whom are working across the world, supported by the capital’s innovation in engineering and building services. London is both a hub of architectural talent, and a site for architects to engage with pressing urban issues. From its earliest days, the festival has showcased this creative talent, as well as providing a platform for engagement in, and observation about, the city. 

The London Festival of Architecture is the largest celebration of architecture, in the capital, in the UK with a wide range of events including; exhibitions, lectures, talks, bike rides, temporary structures and tours of historic buildings. 

This year’s festival explored the dynamism of the UK’s capital city, and its economic driver, through the central theme “Work in progress”: “Work has shaped our city and informs our lives. It connects London socially and globally; it is the means by which we share and test ideas, and often where we have our greatest successes and challenges. London exists because of its commercial roots, as a place of production, the exchange of goods and services. Yet how we work – and how we think about work and the workplace – has changed dramatically in recent years. Technology, alongside other cultural and economic forces, has enabled work to seep out from offices to permeate our entire city, influencing its landscape and impacting on our experience of daily life. Landscapes have changed, too, due to the decline of traditional industry and manufacturing, while many of the remaining sites are now under pressure for much needed homes. Yet now we are seeing a resurgence of manufacture, and a return to artisan and making. London itself is a work in progress, and its architecture, and its architects, both respond to, and lead, the process of change.” This year’s theme ‘Work in Progress’ presented a chance to explore the changing nature of work, and workspace alongside a public audience. The festival interrogated the impact of work and the role it should play in the ongoing evolution of the city. 

Over the past decade or more, the capital has stealthily developed a calendar of creative events, which attract significant domestic and global attention, as well as visitors, investors and buyers. Some of these have emerged in the recent past, while others have built on their existing foundations to become even more successful. Shows like London Fashion Week, London Film Festival and, relatively more recently, London Design Festival, are constantly refreshing London’s image as a creative capital. The intention is that the annual architecture festival becomes part of this international offer, etching London’s reputation as a hub for some of the world’s best architects and architecture schools. Furthermore, London’s built form is a living showcase for its architectural excellence – in its buildings as well as its public realm. The Festival works on two levels: a public-facing festival that encourages the public to explore their city, and a moment for architects and built environment professionals to engage with setting the future agenda for London. By breaking down barriers between the two, the festival presents a real opportunity to include citizens in the conversations that are shaping their city around them. 

The festival provided a vehicle to:
•    Shine a spotlight on, celebrate and communicate the talent of our architectural profession - its practices, education, critical thinking and physical contribution to the shape of London;
•    showcase the economic contribution to the GDP of the UK, and its global reputation as a creative leader;
•    use the creativity of the profession to help Londoners understand their city, both its changing nature and the opportunities for experimentation and shaping our quality of life.

Objectives and expected outcomes

The key objectives of the project were as follows:

Contribute to London’s economy and image 

•    Contribute to London’s profile as a centre for creative industries by promoting the talent, output and success of its architectural sector; 
•    Showcase the innovation and cross-fertilisation of London’s cultural sector through LFA’s partner programme, which includes many of its leading cultural institutions;
•    Showcase London’s related professional services that underpin the creative ecology, enabling constant innovation in our built environment;
•    Showcase London’s higher education sector through its architectural education;
•    Increase the GDP of the UK and London through growing opportunities for the sector to win business – both from domestic and overseas clients.

Helping to shape London

•    Create debate and engagement in the issues facing London now – whether it is its housing ambitions, its public realm, tall buildings and the densification needed to accommodate growth;
•    Use collaborations to test ideas and experimentation – whether through cross sector debate or calls for ideas and interventions;
•    Bring life to some of London’s lost spaces – whether through temporary interventions or public engagement in design LFA activity can engage communities in new ways to shape their local environments; 
•    Support the GLA regeneration team and Outer London Commission in its objectives by working with some the outer London boroughs to explore opportunities and issues impacting on the area through, for example, development and intensification.

In line with these objectives, the key activities of the project were as follows:
•    Deliver a full programme of events and activities across London with the initiating partners and the c.70 invited Festival Partner and associated project partners, and include the GLA (Mayor of London) as a partner, supporter and sponsor in all relevant LFA related publicity.
•    Work with key sector organisations including the GLA to facilitate high quality architecture events in key institutions across the capital. GLA representatives were in attendance at monthly Festival Partner meetings. 
•    Deliver a dedicated LFA lecture tackling one or more current issues around the built environment and public realm, with speakers of international interest including a GLA nominee.
•    Deliver an international architecture programme in collaboration with embassies and cultural institutes to enhance the international nature of the Festival.
•    Provide communication and promotional support for GLA Regeneration team events that showcase Mayoral investment in projects across the city that relate to the theme: Work in Progress

Promote London as an architecture destination in the month of June
•    Undertake a dedicated media promotion strategy, raising the profile of the LFA and London’s architecture sector to domestic and international media.
•    Citywide programming 

Showcase the widest possible range of architecture talent in the city
•    Core LFA exhibitions and installations: high quality public projects in a mixture of locations across the city.
•    Over 100 events across London, all of which will be open to the public.

Project Outcomes

The funding agreement with LFA sets out outputs, milestones and payment and performance monitoring arrangements. The GLA is paying the contribution in arrears upon receipt of satisfactory reports providing evidence against the deliverables previously agreed with the delivery partner in advance of events commencing.

As a result of achieving objectives above, the following outcomes are expected in the final report:
•    To have over 50% of LFA visitors attend more than one LFA event
•    To have over 100 individual events across the capital
•    Broad online and print coverage, in UK and internationally, to include at least 3 major UK media titles
•    Engagement with the international visitors with specific programme ( e.g. Irish Programme, World Architecture Festival, RIBA Designing City Resilience).

In previous years, we have achieved similar or fewer outcomes for £25,000 in core support. This demonstrates the growing strength of the festival, its ability to better leverage private sponsorship and deliver an expanded programme with less reliance on the GLA. This represents greater value for money in activity this year.  

Equality comments

All activities, wherever possible, that collectively comprised the festival programme were respectful of the public sector equality duty. One of the key aims of the festival is to engage with as broad and diverse public audience as possible, to promote architecture and design and critically reflect on the issues facing London’s development in an atmosphere that is inclusive and respectful. As such, the programme was design to appeal to this broad audience. All major events were held in appropriate and accessible venues, all building and walking tours were designed to be as inclusive as possible.  There is also a key ambition to bring various debates to new audiences including international visitors. The profiling of those who attended events and engaged with the festival is to be captured as part of the final evaluation and used as a pro-active tool to guide and develop the activities in future years.   

Other considerations

4.    Risk

In this case, risk is minimal as a successful event has completed, subject to a final report confirming outputs achieved. In this sense, value for money can be assured. 

5.    Links to strategies and Mayoral and corporate priorities

The goal of the festival is to make an increasing contribution to London’s future, both its cultural life and the growth in stature and impact of its architectural community. Funding from the GLA will enable the festival to continue to support the Mayor’s objectives across a broad range of activity: 

Mayoral and corporate priorities- by positing new ideas about the development of London, the Festival supported the Mayoral objective of making London the best Big City in the world. By showcasing the vitality of London’s creative industries it helped to deliver the Mayoral priority of promoting and supporting London’s competitiveness. By engaging directly with the everyday experiences of Londoners and championing achievements of development in London it broadened access to and engagement with the opportunities that living in a great big city offers. 

Specifically, the festival aligned well with Objective 1 of the Mayor’s Economic Development Strategy:  to promote London as the world capital of business, the world’s top international visitor destination, and the world’s leading international centre of learning and creativity. It did this by providing a platform for the architecture and design sector to showcase its work and by connecting with international audiences through collaboration with the British Council.

Contribute to London’s economy and image was achieved through the following festival objectives:

•    Contribute to London’s profile as a centre for creative industries by promoting the talent, output and success of its architectural sector; 
•    Showcase the innovation and cross-fertilisation of London’s cultural sector through LFA’s partner programme, which includes many of its leading cultural institutions;
•    Showcase London’s related professional services that underpin the creative ecology, enabling constant innovation in our built environment;
•    Showcase London’s higher education sector through its architectural education;
•    Increase the GDP of the UK and London through growing opportunities for the sector to win business – both from domestic and overseas clients.

Helping to shape London was achieved through the following festival objectives:

•    Create debate and engagement in the issues facing London now – whether it is its housing ambitions, its public realm, tall buildings and the densification needed to accommodate growth;
•    Use of collaborations to test ideas and experimentation – whether through cross sector debate or calls for ideas and interventions;
•    Bring life to some of London’s lost spaces – whether through temporary interventions or public engagement in design LFA activity can engage communities in new ways to shape their local environments; 
•    Support the GLA regeneration team and Outer London Commission in its objectives by working with some the outer London boroughs to explore opportunities and issues impacting on the area through, for example, development and intensification.

Support for the London Festival of Architecture will also help to deliver priority 4 of the Mayor’s Cultural Strategy:  Infrastructure, environment and the public realm. The Cultural strategy notes that ‘the GLA is not a grant-giving organisation itself, but it does have modest funds that can be used for events and campaigns and to raise the profile of culture in London.’  It also highlights that architecture and design are, in themselves, important industries for London and that the capital is home to a number of practices with considerable international reputations. In the strategy the Mayor commits ‘to champion these industries through ongoing support for those events that serve to showcase the work of architecture firms and design agencies in London and also to contribute to ongoing public debates about the buildings and physical environment in London.’

6.    Impact assessments and Consultation

GLA support will be set out in a single Grant Agreements and that the process of writing and overseeing this will be managed by James Parkinson in the GLA Regeneration team. In addition to the Assistant Director and Director, this proposal has been discussed with the Senior Project Manager in the Culture Team. 

The London Festival of Architecture is well supported by the Architecture and Design community – with many practices, using it as an opportunity to showcase their work and to take part in the wider debate about the industry in the capital. 

As such all consultees agree that this is a unique opportunity to support and promote the architecture and design industry in London. 

Financial comments

Approval is being sought to grant fund up to £20,000 to London Festival of Architecture Ltd (LFAL) as a contribution to its costs of holding the London Festival of Architecture 2015 (to be governed by funding agreement).

The revenue expenditure of up to £20,000 will be wholly incurred in 2015/16 and will be funded from the Development, Enterprise and Environment 2015/16 minor programme budget.

Planned delivery approach and next steps

The retrospective proposal to make a grant award to the London Festival of Architecture as set out above is based on the fact that there are no other events and awards in London, of a similar focus, scale or reputation, which could deliver equivalent return on GLA investment and this support is crucial to this unique festival being sustained to continue in future years, developing an ever more ambitious programme. Whilst the festival has finished and been a success, the evaluation report is outstanding and will confirm the activities and outputs. This will be submitted to the GLA by 30 September 2015 and funding will only be granted on condition of approval, as set out in the grant agreement.