MD1621 The Culture Diary

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Date signed: 
17 March 2016
Decision by: 
Boris Johnson MP (past staff), Mayor of London

Executive summary

Approval is sought to receive and manage grants of up to £175,000 from external funders to continue the ongoing delivery of the Culture Diary – a digital platform providing a calendar of cultural events used by the culture sector to plan programmes and avoid clashes.   The Culture Diary is particularly focussed on maximising London and UK cultural export and providing opportunities for the culture sector to develop new partnerships and investment. The Diary was re- launched in April 2014 following approval of MD1316. The GLA’s role coordinating the Culture Diary has positioned us to demonstrate the capital’s capacity for strategic cultural leadership at an international scale, connecting the UK’s cultural and creative industries to the world via London.



That the Mayor approves:

1.    the receipt of grant funding of up to £175,000 from Arts Council England to fund delivery of the Culture Diary in 2016-17; and 

2.    the related expenditure in respect of the Culture Diary as follows:
a)    up to £85,000 for  core staff  to deliver the relationship management, marketing plan and ongoing digital development;
b)    up to £55,000 on Marketing, Communications and Events; and
c)    up to £35,000 on Digital Development


Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    The Culture Diary was originally developed by the GLA to help plan and co-ordinate cultural activity in London during the Olympics in2012.  Following the Olympics the Diary continued to be used as a resource for London’s culture sector as a planning and clash chart.  In February 2014, the GLA entered into an agreement with the British Council (on behalf of stakeholders GREAT campaign, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), VisitBritain (VB), Arts Council England (ACE), British Council (BC), Department of Culture & Media (DCMS) and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)) to  enhance the Diary as an international planning tool (MD1316). The Diary is fully funded externally with no GLA funds. 

1.2    Over the past 2 years, the GLA has worked to develop the Diary website and provide information and resources to both the Culture Sector and government agencies (BC, FCO, VB and UKTI).  The Diary brokers relationships between the London and UK cultural and creative sectors and international producers, promoters, venues and embassies, driving international collaboration and export of the UK’s rich cultural offer.

1.3    The GLA’s leadership in this project demonstrates the capital’s capacity for strategic cultural leadership at an international scale – connecting the UK’s cultural and creative industries to the world via London.

1.4     The Culture Diary Team provide an invaluable resource to the culture sector in London and the UK planning to work internationally, providing  free resources, guidance and advice and a directory for users to create collaborations and opportunities. In 2015, the Team produced The Art of Export guide to international touring, highlighting case studies from London Symphony Orchestra, Akram Khan Dance Company and Shakespeare’s Globe.

1.5    The Diary has grown from strength to strength over the last two years. Users who originally registered for 2012 Cultural Olympiad have been successfully migrated to the new and rebranded website. The active user base has grown from 4,104 to 7,300 with 4158 organisations have registered.  The website receives an average of 20,000 unique visitors per annum. The Diary has successfully brokered relationships between the culture sector and overseas networks, developing soft power, such as introducing the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company to the Artistic Director of UK Korean Year of Culture 2017 programme.  Anecdotally the Diary has received feedback on the benefits of the ‘Art of Export’ publication and how it has been responsible for cultural organisations starting to tour and export their products into new markets.

1.6    The Diary is currently funded by the GREAT campaign and Arts Council England. The budget for 2016-17 is up to £175,000.  Further funding will be requested from Creative Scotland and Arts Council Wales.  All funds will be given as grants and managed by the GLA Culture Team.

1.7    The Diary is at a critical point in its development.  Following a period of consultation with the culture sector and our steering group partners, we have reviewed the longer-term strategy and propose to adapt the future focus of our work, taking a more refined approach. Alongside the ongoing planning and resources the Diary provides to the culture sector, we will need to demonstrate a real return on investment and influence.  We will target up to 20 cultural organisations and 10 overseas priority markets and seek to create partnerships and business opportunities for the culture sector.  We will monitor this closely working in collaboration with Arcadian, the external evaluation agency for the GREAT campaign. We are planning to meet with a number London based organisations to take this forward including – London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra,  National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, English National Ballet, V&A, Royal Opera House and the British Film Institute.  



Objectives and expected outcomes

The Diary will deliver the following objectives:

2.1    Offer opportunities for up to 20 London and UK cultural organisations to target the top 10 UK overseas markets.

2.2    Work with UKTI, ACE and VB to showcase London and UK cultural events and partnerships to create sales leads through trade shows and on-territory events.

2.3    Create an early warning system for overseas offices to pre-plan 6 months in advance to maximise the UK benefits of overseas tours and events.

2.4    New marketing and communications plan to drive up members and highlight benefits including regular briefings for on-territory staff highlighting upcoming activity and events being planned.

2.5    Increase usage of the Diary - double regional usage to 10,000 across England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland

2.6    Exploit the success of the diary function as a free tool for cities to coordinate UK-wide events (e.g. Hull 2017, India 2017,UK-Korea Year or Culture 2017.)

2.7    Align TCD’s activities with the GREAT campaign with a view to track Return on Influence and Investment 20:1.



Equality comments

3.1    The cultural organisations engaged with the Diary and in receipt of public funding through the relevant arts funding bodies (ACE, Creative Scotland, ACW) are committed through their funding agreements to proactively apply the principles of the Equality Act 2010, and to regularly refresh their equality and diversity policies and practices.


Other considerations

4.1      The Diary addresses the following Mayoral priorities:

•    Protecting London’s international status, by highlighting international investment opportunities for the cultural and creative industries.

•    Maintaining London’s position as a world city for culture (Cultural Strategy policy 2) by encouraging and assisting London’s cultural organisations to work internationally, increasing their profile overseas, encouraging tourism and inward investment.

4.2      Impact assessments and consultations

We recently developed an evaluation project to gain insights on the effectiveness of the project, and user-satisfaction. This included a survey reaching 348 cultural organisations 73 government agencies/funders. 82% of cultural organisations said that the ability to see events planned was important or very important. 83% of government agencies and 63% of cultural organisations said that it is important to have one central planning tool to facilitate international touring.  60% of government agencies/funders said that the ability to see events planned is important or very important. 

Key Risks and Issues


Key Risks

Mitigation Actions


Funding does not continue for the Diary and the culture sector loses a vital resource that collates all cultural events nationally & internationally, along with a directory of culture contacts. 


ACE and the GREAT campaign have agreed funding for 2016/17 and will review further funding in early 2017 against agreed KPIs.

Reputational damage with partners, stakeholders and the culture sector if GLA does not continue to lead the project. Failure to deliver these actions will have a negative effect on the Mayor’s commitment to maintaining London as a world class city of culture. The GLA are currently strategic partnership project managers, which is part of the Cultural Legacy from London 2012 and there is no one currently in place who could take this over.


GLA officers will mitigate such a risk by working closely with external funders and the culture sector to ensure the continuance of the Diary and agree a business plan for running the project post 2016/17.



Financial comments

5.1    Approval is being sought for the GLA to receive grant funding of up to £175,000 to develop and manage the Culture Diary project in 2016-17. The grant funding will be provided by the GREAT campaign, Arts Council England. 

5.2    From 2014-2016 the Culture Diary has been developed by the GLA under MD 1316. 

5.3    All funds will be given as grants and managed by the GLA Culture Team, with spend as detailed in the body of the report. The Culture Diary is completely funded externally with no GLA contribution. 


Investment and Performance Board

IPB approved this proposal in principle on 11 March 2016


Planned delivery approach and next steps



MD signed

March 2016

Funding agreements signed with agreed KPIS


Recruitment  and appointment of Culture Diary Co-ordinator/Project Manager


Meet and sign up top 20 cultural organisations  to track international plans  

Feb - March

Develop tracking of ROI with Arcadian (evaluators of  GREAT)

March to June


Agree future developments to website

March- May

Quarterly meetings of Steering Group

April to March 2017

Evaluation and decision on future of The Culture Diary

February 2017


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