MD2129 Core Cultural Programme 2017-18

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Date signed: 
24 May 2017
Decision by: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

The Mayor has highlighted culture as one of his key priorities.  He is committed to ensuring that London retains its status as the world’s leading capital city for culture and creativity and ensuring more Londoners access arts and culture.
This decision requests approval for the delivery of work streams of the Culture & Creative Industries Team.
This MD seeks approval for several new work streams, the continuation of existing work streams as well as delivery of the Mayor’s culture strategy.


That the Mayor approves expenditure up to a maximum of £1.551m on the programme activities set out in the main body of this decision.


Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

This decision seeks approval for a maximum expenditure of £1.551m on the following work streams which will be managed by GLA officers within the Culture and Creative Industries Unit. A breakdown of expenditure is summarised in the table below:

Cultural Infrastructure Plan


Creative Enterprise Zones


World Cities Cultural Forum


Cultural Strategy


Illuminated River


Love London


Thames Estuary Production Corridor






1.1    Cultural Infrastructure Plan

1.1.1    The Cultural Infrastructure Plan will set out a roadmap to 2030 to identify what London needs to do, to sustain and develop culture up to 2030. The Cultural Infrastructure plan is planned to be published in 2018, and will focus on infrastructure that will support cultural production, performance, exhibition and heritage.

1.1.2    The initial phase of work on the Cultural Infrastructure Plan was previously approved within of MD2045.The outcome was an audit of creative and cultural institutions and spaces and an analysis of the challenges and opportunities facing industry specific cultural infrastructure.

1.1.3    Work in 2017/18 will involve a detailed mapping of the infrastructural needs of cultural subsectors and geographical areas in the capital. The Culture Team will work across GLA teams including Regeneration, Planning and the Intelligence Unit to draw together data on the cultural sector’s infrastructure needs. The Cultural Infrastructure plan research and data will complement and inform the London Plan.

1.2    Creative Enterprise Zones 

1.2.1    The concept of a Creative Enterprise Zone is a geographical area that incentivises and nurtures creative enterprise by working with local authorities, developers and with the creative community and residents. Creative Enterprise Zones are based on existing government Enterprise Zones where incentives are offered to support growth e.g. business rates relief. 

1.2.2    Some business rates relief schemes are national and applied in the same way across all local authority areas in the same way (such as small business rates relief, retail relief, empty properties relief and mandatory charitable relief). Beyond these national schemes, local authorities also have the discretionary power to set out their own policy for offering relief on business rates. The only condition placed on local authorities when using their discretionary relief power is that they need to be satisfied that this is reasonable in “regards to the interests of persons liable to pay council tax set by it” (as introduced by the Localism Act 2011).

1.2.3    The Mayor’s Creative Enterprise Zones will offer a tailored support package for the creative sector by placing culture at the heart of local regeneration strategies and implementing key interventions including more provision of affordable studios and work spaces by working with planners and developers a fostering economic growth, allowing creative industries to put down roots. All of these objectives aim to stimulate local economic growth as well as enabling jobs creation and improving quality of life in these Creative Enterprise Zones. 

1.2.4    In 2016/17, the Culture & Creative Industries Unit funded baseline study work, within MD2045 This research will inform the Creative Enterprise Zone Pathfinder programme which will be undertaken in 2017-18. 

1.3    World Cities Cultural Forum

1.3.1    The World Cities Culture Forum is a network of over 30 global cities convened by the Mayor of London and chaired by Justine Simons, Deputy Mayor for Culture. Its members – senior leaders from city governments – are influential cultural officials, advocating for culture as a vital part of urban policy, as well as being key to building a city’s reputation, economic prosperity and quality of life. 

1.3.2    The World Cities Cultural Forum includes an annual summit which is hosted on a rotating basis by member cities. This year members will meet in Seoul for three days of discussion, sharing good practice and challenges and exploring solutions to city problems. Previous gatherings have taken place in London, Shanghai, Amsterdam, Istanbul and Moscow.

1.3.3    The Forum has proved a valuable opportunity for world cities to share successes, engage in collective learning and work collaboratively to build evidence based policy.

1.3.4    The Forum’s work is underpinned by an extensive research programme and the most comprehensive set of data on culture and cities worldwide.

1.4    Culture Strategy

1.4.1    The Mayor has a statutory responsibility to deliver a Culture Strategy for London. Work on the Strategy will take place over 2017/18, informed by the Mayor’s Cultural Leadership Board
(previously referred to as The Cultural Strategy Group). The Group will meet for the first time in June and membership is drawn from across London’s culture and creative industries 

1.4.2    The Group will meet quarterly and advise the Mayor on the ongoing challenges and needs of the sector and commission research as appropriate.

1.5    Illuminated River

1.5.1    The bridges across the River Thames in London are currently vibrant by day and underutilised at night. This part of the city’s infrastructure is an asset which can contribute to London’s growing night time economy. The ambition of the Illuminated River project is to create an attractive, technologically advanced, environmentally friendly lighting solution for the bridges in Central London.

1.5.2    The Illuminated River project was jointly initiated by the GLA and the Rothschild Foundation, a charitable trust with a strong track-record of fundraising to deliver regeneration projects in London such as the redevelopment of Somerset House. The Rothschild Foundation has now established a new charitable trust, The Illuminated River Foundation specifically to deliver this new project. 

1.5.3    DD1495 previously approved a grant of £100,000 from the Olympic Reserve for the Illuminated River Charitable Trust to appoint a creative team to develop a unified lighting design for up to 15 bridges on the River Thames. The Illuminated River Foundation has secured £10million towards the delivery of the first phase with an additional commitment of £500,000 from The City of London.

1.6    Love London

1.6.1    The Mayor has pledged to create a Love London campaign, giving Londoners discounts and reductions across the city. 

1.6.2    The Love London programme will address the issue of declining participation in culture, for example only 23% of Londoners visit cultural or leisure activities once a week or more, compared to a high of 39% in 2010. 

1.6.3    Research with cultural organisations across the capital and GLA partners including TfL and London & Partners will be undertaken. A pilot project will be developed in 2017/18.

1.7    Thames Estuary Production Corridor

1.7.1    The Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission was announced by the Government in March 2016. It has been tasked with developing an ambitious vision and delivery plan for North Kent, South Essex and East London up to 2050. In September 2016, the Commission asked for a ‘Call for Ideas’. The GLA  worked in  partnership with the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) and the South East Local Economic Partnership (SELEP) to submit a vision for a Thames Estuary Production Corridor -  a vision to transform the Thames Estuary into a hub for the creative and cultural industries, and bring jobs and growth to benefit London and the wider South East.

1.7.2    The creative industries is the UK’s biggest growth sector and will feature prominently alongside other sectors in the new Thames Estuary Production Corridor. The creative industries generate £8.8m per hour. 1.3m people work in the creative economy across the South East alone. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills predicts 1.2 million new workers will be needed in the sector over the next decade, making the requirement for a production corridor to accommodate this growth even more important.

1.7.3    The Thames Estuary Production Corridor will span 7 London Boroughs; Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Barking & Dagenham and Havering connecting across to South Essex and North Kent. Boroughs have ring-fenced capital projects and the next stage in developing the vision is for the GLA to work in partnership with Boroughs and other partners to commission   specific research relating to the role that creative industries can play in the proposed Production Corridor, feeding into the wider aims in the development of this project. The long term aim would be to deliver between 6-12 large scale production centres, utilising industrial land and creating skills and employment opportunities. 

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1    Cultural Infrastructure Plan

2.1.1    As referred to in section 1.1, the initial phase of the Cultural Infrastructure Plan focussed on  auditing creative and cultural institutions and spaces, and undertaking an analysis of the challenges and opportunities facing industry specific cultural infrastructure.

2.1.2    The next phase is to procure a consultant to commission a cultural planning and place-shaping study which will include the following: 

•    Support local cultural planning and partnerships with developers (e.g. guidance on specifications for creative workspace and onsite/offsite contributions).
•    Reviews of local cultural strategies and local plans at borough level.
•    Use of evidence and data to inform local cultural planning.
•    Pilot of a borough-wide cultural infrastructure plan in one borough.
•    Develop a map of cultural infrastructure.
•    Publish the capital’s first culture-at-risk register.  

2.1.3    The GLA funding will also enable the Culture & Creative Industries Unit to carry out the following:

•    A substantial cultural premises study - a cross-sector assessment of pressure points of premises on the creative and cultural industries, including rental outlook implications; business rates; maintenance in different types of cultural infrastructure; potential implications of a Sales Transaction Tax; charity law and impending changes; EU regulations regarding old buildings and environmental impact. 

2.1.4    The longer term objectives of the Cultural Infrastructure Plan is to ensure that cultural infrastructure is prioritised to ensure cultural objectives are considered in terms of new land developments or regeneration opportunities. 

2.2    Creative Enterprise Zones

2.2.1    The creative industries sector is growing but is also facing escalating rents, rising business rates and 
a lack of affordable workspace which is hitting the creative sector hard. For example London is set to lose 30% of its artist studio space by 2019. 

2.2.2   The GLA conducted an internal process to identify several options for the pathfinder zone. An 
internal shortlist was discussed by the  cross GLA  Culture Delivery Group and the Mayor of London subsequently selected one borough to become the Creative Enterprise Zone Pathfinder which will be announced in September 2017.

2.2.3    The pathfinder will offer a package of incentives partly funded by the grant agreement from the GLA and partly through incentives offered by the local authority. Measures could include affordable workspace, business rates relief; supply chain development, business skills and enterprise and financial incentives; pro-planning policies; broadband and 'look and feel' improvements to the public realm. The grant funding offered by the GLA to the Local Authority could contribute to these measures offered by the local authority. 

2.2.4    The Mayor's pathfinder will reflect local circumstances and meet the needs of a range of creative 
businesses - from visual artists to fashion designers to games developers. The model will be flexible, reflecting local priorities.

2.2.5    The GLA approved a budget of £890,000 in 2017-18 for Creative Enterprise Zones, which will 
contribute towards the first year of operation of the Creative Enterprise Zone Pathfinder. The Pathfinder zone will aim to inform the longer term vision of the Creative Enterprise Zones programme and will inform the basis, implementation and delivery for future Creative Enterprise Zones within London. The Pathfinder will also benefit from GLA funded business enterprise and skills development programmes and capital funds.

2.3    World Cities Cultural Forum

2.3.1    Continued delivery of the World Cities Cultural Forum will reinforce London’s reputation as a world leading city for culture and creativity, reinforcing the message that London is open.

2.3.2    The World Cities Cultural Forum will continue to build evidence about the impact culture has on cities and their inhabitants. This year the first comparative statistical study on how culture is financed in world cities will be published, as well as two publications focusing on issues of urgent importance to members – ‘Culture and sustainability’ and ‘Making space for culture’.

2.3.3    The 2017 annual Summit will take place in Seoul in November 2017. The programme will be developed with participating cities over the next few months. A report will be published following the Summit.

2.3.4    The GLA funding will contribute towards the costs of an external consultant to manage the programme, research, publication of reports, membership fees, attendance at events and travel costs.

2.4    Culture Strategy

2.4.1    This funding will contribute to the development and delivery of the Culture Strategy over 2017/18 with the support of the Mayor’s Cultural Leadership Board. 

2.4.2    The funding will support the work and activities of the Mayor’s Cultural Leadership Board on specific areas recommended e.g. scoping and researching projects.

2.4.3    It is likely that additional research may be required to inform the delivery of the Mayor’s Culture Strategy.

2.5    Illuminated River

2.5.1    Following an international competition the artists Leo Villareal and the architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (LDS) were appointed to deliver this project in December 2016. The Illuminated River Foundation are planning for the delivery of the bridge lighting schemes and aim to launch the first phase by 2020 and all remaining bridges by 2022.

2.5.2    The GLA will provide grant funding to The Illuminated River Foundation to enable the following to be achieved by March 2020:

•    All artistic/designs developed and submitted for phase one (first set of 5 bridges).
•    Planning applications submitted and approved.
•    Creation of a digitally interactive model of London to update the data on bridges – a legacy that would be owned by the bridge managers in the longer term.
•    The Illuminated River Foundation will procure a thorough environmental impact assessment, environmental survey of the area and bat and bird surveys.

2.5.3    By March 2020, new lighting schemes will have been installed on five bridges across the River Thames. The lighting schemes will utilise the latest technology while taking into account environmental and sustainability considerations.

2.6    Love London

2.6.1    The GLA will work with cultural partners, such as museums, galleries, and attractions, across London to develop a pilot programme of free and discounted offers, targeted at specific audiences. The aim will be to widen access to culture for all Londoners. The GLA will lead on this pilot programme, carrying out research with potential audiences, workshops with cultural partners to agree the content for the pilot programme. The outcome of this programme will inform the plans for the Love London project in future years.

2.6.2    The objectives of the Love London programme will be to encourage more Londoners to take part in culture, widen access to culture and cultural activities in London and therefore promote social and cultural development of all Londoners, as well as continuing to reinforce the view of London as a world leading city for culture and creativity.

2.6.3    Example of the types of the offers as part of this programme will include discounts and incentives to museums, galleries, cultural venues and attractions. It will also include tactical campaigns to targeted groups of Londoners, for example young people and low income families, to experience more culture in their daily lives.

2.7    Thames Estuary Production Corridor

2.7.1    The GLA launched a vision for a Thames Estuary Production Corridor as a new creative industries business, as part of the Mayor's commitment to developing and implementing a Cultural Infrastructure Plan for the capital. 

2.7.2    The £40,000 investment will be used to commission further research and feasibility studies in order to develop a more focussed vision and ultimately a master plan for the role of creative industries in the wider vision for the Thames Estuary Production Corridor. South East LEP has agreed to match the Mayor’s investment, and discussions are currently taking place with the Department for Business and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills for additional leverage from the Growth Commission and with the Government’s Industrial Strategy programme.

Equality comments

Under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, as a public authority, the Mayor of London must have ‘due regard’ to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who have a protected characteristic and those who do not.


3.2       The proposed programmes outlined in the main body of this report offer and enable the continued creation of employment opportunities for Londoners, creating both positive social and economic impact in the capital. Some of the activities set out above actively focus on increasing the provision of employment opportunities for those from lower income backgrounds to enter the creative employment sector.

3.3       The Culture and Creative Industries Unit will ensure that all partnering organisations have equality policies in place at their organisations and 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.

3.4       The activities set out in the main body of this report provide opportunities for organisations from a range of cultural and business sectors to engage with each other in order to work collaboratively and actively fosters closer working between a diverse range of both organisations and individuals.

3.5       In July, we will publish plans to support LGBT venues, including research into openings and closures of LGBT venues in London. This will recognise the importance of these venues to the LGBT community and the need to protect them for future generations.

Other considerations

4.1    The activities and programmes outlined in this decision link to Mayoral strategies and priorities including:

•    A City for All Londoners, wherein culture is seen as the golden thread, key to our future success, both for integrating and strengthening communities and supporting more liveable and successful places. 

•    Culture Manifesto, with a focus on increasing access to culture for all Londoners.

•    The Mayor’s vision for Healthy Streets, which are more welcoming to people and encourage them to make active and sustainable travel choices, for example by contributing to the healthy streets aspiration of ‘things to see and do’.  

4.2    In terms of both social and economic development, the programmes will help the GLA work with businesses and individuals to improve productivity and growth. The aim is that all Londoners progress and reach their full potential and that London’s businesses can access the skills they need to succeed.  

4.3    The programme activities set out in this decision provide opportunities for linking in with the London Plan’s strategic policies to support London’s cultural offer and its diverse range of arts, cultural, and entertainment enterprises. The activities will cut across various Mayoral policy areas and will be carried out in collaboration with other GLA teams which include: Regeneration, Events, Housing & Land and Diversity & Social Policy.. 

4.4    The main risks and issues to the detailed programme activities are set out below:


Risk description

Mitigation / Risk response

Current probability (1-4)

Current impact (1-4)


GLA risk owner


Financial mismanagement of any funding provided by the GLA to partners involved in the programme activities outline above

The GLA will enter into the required funding agreements and payments will only be made on completion of milestones. GLA officers will also monitor performance against targets on an ongoing basis.




Culture & Creative Industries Team


Lack of a buy-in from local authorities for the Creative Enterprise Zone programme.

Findings from the pathfinder Creative Enterprise Zone will be thoroughly evaluated.  The team have long-standing relationships with local authorities which will ensure strategic buy in for the project at borough level.




Culture & Creative Industries Team


Financial comments

5.1    Approval is being sought for the expenditure of up to £1.551m to deliver new and existing work streams within the Culture and Creative Industry Unit. This will include the issuing and receipt of grants.

5.2    For programmes which require the issuing of a grant, an appropriate funding agreement must be in place detailing any milestones, output or outcomes upon satisfactory due diligence review. 

5.3    Expenditure will be met from the Culture and Creative Industry 2017-18 programme budget.

Planned delivery approach and next steps



MD signed

May 2017

First meeting of Mayor’s Cultural Leadership Board

June 2017

Announce plans to protect LGBT venues and publish research into

openings and closures of venues

July 2017

Publish pilot borough-wide Cultural Infrastructure Plan for Haringey

Autumn 2017

Announce first Creative Enterprise Zone

Autumn 2017

Illuminated River funding agreement signed

Autumn 2017

World Cities Culture Forum annual Summit in Seoul

Autumn 2017

Love London pilot project launched

Autumn 2017

Culture Strategy consultation

Autumn 2017

Publish research into dance / dance rehearsal space

Autumn 2017

Cultural Infrastructure Plan published

Spring 2018

Culture Strategy published

Spring 2018

Thames Estuary feasibility research delivered

Spring 2018


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