What cultural activities do you like to do in London? What stops you doing more? Is there anything you’d like to see or do that you don’t think is available in the city currently?
I dance Argentine Tango several times a week. It takes time to learn but there is a lot of enjoyment in dancing. And the connection with a partner and dancing itself are healthy and life-enhancing.
I love to go to theatres, museums, galleries (independent as well as the biggies). I go to the National Theatre as part of a writing group - we enjoy the cultural background and the ability to be a part of something even if it is only in a quiet way. I love being surrounded by other cultures - world-wide - as well as having access to 'cultural' bases - theatres etc. I like the fact that as a Lambeth resident I can go to the Young Vic and be part of a discussion group as well as going to actual performances. And even though I no longer join in, I love the fact that the Old Vic gives 'ordinary' people the opportunity to be part of projects. The only things that stop me are time and energy. Luckily now that I'm retired I can do more but - living in London means that there is almost limitless access to cultural activities. There are places I can go to dance and to sing - even to knit!! We are sooooo lucky!!!
I love live music and it is important that the smaller venues are able to survive and that some remain independent. I think the gentrification of some areas (eg part of Soho), whilst very popular, it is important they don't lose their identity or become totally commercial.
Also, now that I have more time, I will go to exhibitions art galleries, museums etc and more recently have been going to my independent local cinema more frequently as well as occasionally volunteering as a steward in an architecectural/historical lesser well known building in London.
I totally agree, we need to do more to ensure smaller live music venues remain open, and that areas like Soho keep their identities.
Poetry, theatre, museums and galleries, street festivals.... More affordable participatory events/workshops,/classes.
I used to love going to the museums and art galleries but now have mobility issues so using public transport is difficult. A lot of places are expensive like the Tower of London and tickets for the theatre are very expensive. Luckily we have a local art centre which hosts affordable events
I'd love to see a scheme where anyone resident in a London Borough can get reduced prices to the Theatre and places of Interest.
Totally agree with reduced prices for Londoners! I've also seen schemes where you pay entrance fee but it entitles you to free entry for the rest of the year so more likely to benefit locals than one off visitors.
A discount scheme for residents seems a really great idea ! Even for local, there is a lot to visit but the cost adds up quickly.
I like as well the 'pay once, go all year' which would allow residents to come along their visiting friends more often, without disbursing excessively.
I love ballet and opera. I have a very talented opera singer in the family who performs in London regularly for very little wage- the latest opera she part wrote and performed in is nominated for an Olivier award. I feel they are not likely to get it because they are such a small fish in a huge pond. The arts are not funded properly. Opera brought to the people, the youth and shared is a wonderful thing, as is ballet- we need our young people to look with love at some of the most beautiful music ever created. Sport gets more money than they need, as does pop culture- please remember the classical beauty that will outlast all our lifetimes.
Thanks everyone for sharing your experience with London's culture so far.
Moving away from museums and galleries, do any of you think of other things as cultural activities? For example, how many of you go to a football game, visit a park or café, or eat jellied eels.
Do you think of these as part of London’s culture? If not, why not?
Yes, everything that happens in London is part of its culture: parks, the river, flea markets, buskers, jellied eels if you wish. I don't think our government needs to add new things to the list. (Garden Bridge was an expensive near-useless idea.) But our government has a BIG role to play in avoiding cultural losses. What if developers were given free rein to gentrify Dalston, for example? Several tiny but vital cultural gathering-places would disappear. The biggest threat to London's culture is developers, and our government seems inclined to give them too much.
Parks such as Hyde Park are superb and a London gem. It is a pity that the peace and quiet in them is damaged by pop concerts.
Unless Londoners can actually sleep and rest, as in real world class cities, then there is no point in even thinking that London is 'great' for culture. Stop building on just about anywhere and let buildings become derelict: Keep them that way, and have much of this: REAL culture will grow on un'developped' land, not your 'hoity-toity', fancy hipster developments.
London's green spaces are a huge asset, culturally, environmentally and psychologically. London would be truly unbearable without them.
The big royal parks seem to be in reasonable shape, if a bit threadbare in places through over-use, but the municipally managed parks and gardens appear to be under considerable stress, probably because the way central government is financially strangling local authorities. Localism! What a joke! Take back power - but with no money. The government should either pay up properly so local authorities can pick up the many problematic pieces that government policies have deposited in their neighbourhoods, or else allow councils to raise sufficient local income tax to pay for the ravages of years of neglect. No wriggling out for non-doms, offshore tax dodgers, absentee property owners or oligarchs - if you live at or own a London property, you pay council tax related to your wealth.
Parks are crucial for Londoners. They make living in a noisy, polluted, manic city possible. I am horrified by the way some great Councils, notably Lambeth, hire out our (not their) parks to commercial operators for music events which take away great swathes of park from local people, many of whom regard the park as their back garden, for weeks on end. Indeed, the majority of residents who live close to Brockwell Park have no other garden. The noise these festivals produce pollutes the area around the park as well as within it.
NB: We need derelict buildings and sites to allow young people to roam and enjoy themselves. We do not need yet another luxury development.
Argentine tango: dancing to it, listening to concerts.
Blues music: more live music in pubs, more jam sessions, more open mikes. Small music venues are fantastic.
More places like the Sound Lounge in Tooting, which had to close because of developers.
There are many cultural activities that take place in London and mainly by established arts & cultural organisations
WE need a weekend of cultural celebration by the community for the community : Faith together: Dance Together: etc
This will allow say a small church group to present gospel singing to a youth group to showcase there talent of street dance to a hindu temple meditation prayers. If we come together at local level first and then showcase over a weekend at a major venue like trafalgar square.
The next two years from April UK will hold chair commonwealth, 52 nations and 52 Common Wealth of arts, culture,dance, architecture so a celebration of 52 nations cultures which is Londondener. So this could be a first project.
What is important is it must be by the community for the community. ( No Arts Council funded or other established org)
I agree. I do go to lots of the established cultural stuff, but agree there is a huge need for this approach too.
- think that there should be places geographically located in 4 places in London, where amateur musicians could present their skills for 15 minutes. For example 2-3 times a week from 5 pm to 10 pm.
Lovely thought, but the Mayor is not interested in 'niceties': He only cares about big business.
Maybe major rail stations could do this, I know there are street pianos in St Pancras and that TfL have a plan with Yamaha for tube pianos. How about on a night tube at the weekends?
Off The Cuff near Herne Hill Station does this at least once a week.
I'd wish that the Mayor concentrated to give Londoners a decent night's sleep, rather than on his silly notion of a '24 hour' society. We don't need this. Instead, concentrate on social housing for all, reducing the number of 'investor' havens (i.e. repossess property developers) and stop building a high-rise, concrete deserts of 'towers of Sauron'.
Agree, the culture of shops opening 24/7 and food and drink licences active to 2 or 3 am makes for a miserable existance if you like peace and quiet.
Absolutely! I'm surprised Khan has been suckered into this. 24/7 is a greedy ambition of the global capitalists. They are trying to squeeze a few more quid out of their assets at the well known health risks to their workers. There is a limit to how much a society can spend going out, especially when hollowed out by austerity, so it will just move the profits round a bit and disturb sleep into the bargain.
Thanks everyone for this discussion. The Night Time Commission is currently conducting research to understand how London’s economy works between 6pm and 6am, not just for culture, but also the environment, transport, safety and public services. From this, they’ll make recommendations to the Mayor on how best to ensure that all sections of London’s communities are catered for.
Some aspects of London’s economy have to be 24 hours, like hotels and protection services. Cultural activities often take place outside daytime working hours. What are the cultural activities that you’d like to be able to access 24 hours a day? What cultural activities do you like to do primarily during the day? And how could we ensure that long hours do not cause harm (eg noise, anti-social behaviour)?
I agree that the 24-hour society is affecting our health and should not be pursued. I agree that we need to go back to more traditional values in some respects (night hours, gambling controls, rent controls, workers' rights...).
However, on the point made by TalkLondon, we have had theatres and concerts in London for centuries and we never needed a 24-hour economy. That was very different from all-night drinking. It's a shame there aren't more people at City Hall with a better understanding of our history, so that they can better evaluate how society has changed and what the options are for the future.
In the past, the community was a much bigger factor in people's lives. Culture meant not only museums and galleries, but also "the culture", i.e. how things were done. This included when you worked, when you ate, where you ate, what you cooked, when you slept... Over the last decade, this kind of culture has been completely overlooked in favour of ever greater accessibility. Nowadays, it's OK to come and live in London without the slightest understanding of the British culture. Policy-makers no longer follow cultural trends but increasingly take their ideas from business lobbyists and people who make a lot of noise. If someone moves to London and doesn't like it here, they might complain a lot, but that's no reason for us to change our way of life.
I am particularly concerned about companies like Deliveroo creating a culture of over-reliance on takeaway food and cycling on the pavement. Many people are concerned about society becoming increasingly centred around technology, to the point that there are adverts for a device that you talk to all over the house. The obvious thing is that we should be talking to a person, not a machine.
I wouldn't claim that things were perfect in the past, but I think we do need to learn lessons from tradition.
Absolutely! Night time culture means that a local green space becomes a dumping ground of bottles and tins. These are people who get wasted before heading into a music venue that does not attract locals. It also means that in the morning we are faced with bus stood where these same people have thrown up.
There's very few sectors that NEED to operate 24/7/365. eg Emergency/security services, power and utilities, hotel. A lot of this night time economy is staffed by migrant workers and so actually causes problems for the infrastructure particularly housing and health.
I question whether businesses should set up if they can't be staffed using British people.
In our most recent Annual London Survey, Talk Londoners told us that while culture is seen as one of the best things about living in London, negatives like cost of living are major drawbacks.
What do you think? Does London's cultural offer help make up for the higher cost of living compared to the rest of the country? If so, why is that?
The problem is that the cultural attraction promotions website visitLondon.com comes across as an elitist service provider, getting a small museum listed which is both free and wheelchair accessible (like the International Heritage Centre free museum of the Salvation Army in Champion Park, Camberwell, London) is a nightmare! You should place more emphasis on promoting wheelchair friendly places than you currently do.
As someone who lives in London and has no intention of moving anywhere (even in London) for a while, then yes, London’s culture does make up for its expensive house prices. However, for people from outside London who are ‘priced out’, it means that coming to London is a rare treat. This is because in order to make the train fare worth it, you have to find multiple things to do, so you wouldn’t just come in for one free museum... But for those in more rural London and the suburbs, London’s culture is a draw, as getting in and out is relatively easy, so it’s worth taking advantage of our free museums etc.
London's cuture is dying out due to gentrification. You only have to look at how many live music venues have been lost due to yuppie flats spring up and then complaining about the noise.
It certainly doesn't make up for the high cost of living. Most people are really only here for work reasons.
You can get cheap tickets for shows but then you add on the price of the travel and it's just too expensive to go into Central London unless you can spend hours on the bus
I agree. A previous comment suggested cut price tickets to theatre, cinema, concerts, etc for local residents, or residents of that borough, should be a policy. This would not only make travel cheaper, but reduce travel altogether, thus improving the environment and encouraging people to walk, ie good for their health.
Theatre, art galleries, opera, gigs. The only thing that sometimes stops me is cost, particularly opera and theatre tickets. Travel is no problem because I have a Freedom pass. JAXM's idea of London residents getting reduced-price tickets would be great, if it were possible.
I agree with Judith L's comments about smaller music venues and over-gentrification.
I also like walking in London's parks.
Old people are the ones who take advantage of London's cultural attractions. The rest of us have neither time nor money to do so. Old people get lots of financial benefits, e.g. Freedom Passes on public transport, Silver Screen at the cinema, OAP discounts... They also got hold of our property while it was still affordable. Many of them have virtually no housing costs at all, yet they are treated as though they are the poorest group in our society. Far from it.
I think City Hall ought to focus on the basics a little more. Cutting bus services is not the way to go in a growing city that needs to reduce its traffic congestion. More buses, cleaner buses, less congestion, etc. would go a long way towards enabling people to take advantage of cultural attractions.
Sadly it is too expensive to go to the theatre a lot in London. I would like to go more often but can't afford it. I do try and go to a lot of the free festivals and cultural events and always enjoy it.
Southwark Playhouse at the Elephant and Castle produces brilliant theatre and prices are very reasonable. From £12 for a front row seat.
I enjoy the art galleries, museums, theatre, cinemas, London landmarks and parks. All cultural activities should be free or discounted to people who live in London which would attract more people. What prevents me doing this is, the cost ie rail fares, venue prices, food shop prices; not feeling safe in London; and the fact that a lot of these places are not family friendly.
It's difficult to do any cultural activities in central London at weekends as there are always transport issues (engineering works, etc), especially as regards the railways. Probably not a problem that can be resolved but very frustrating.
This another comment that fits in with the idea of encouraging local areas's culture by discounting tickets for those who live nearby.
Well exactly. In order to resolve this problem, with need to place more emphasis on weekend transport. We also need to control the population growth, as most of the people on public transport at weekends are in fact tourists. Perhaps they generate income for the economy? Well then use their income to increase bus and train services.
I enjoy theatre, opera, concerts, museums and galleries, promenade performances, etc. The main challenge are prices: it would be good to see some schemes that make accessing culture in the city more affordable for Londoners.
I most strongly disapprove of publicly subsidised cultural activities- these invariably subsidise the pleasures of the rich at a non-trivial cost to the poor.
We should instead
(1) Require all live cultural performances to be broadcast live digitally to cinemas, both private sector and in public spaces for at least 1 performance every 2 months
(2) Encourage cultural activities by participation at schools, youth clubs, etc
I agree with (1). University researchers who get government funds are now obliged to publish their reports, articles or other outputs in open repositories of learning. Should apply to arts funding, too. I have seen a live Shakespeare play broadcast simultaneously to a local cinema, so it can and does happen.
Also with (2). Cultural education starts at home but is broadened at school into wider appreciation and understanding. Interacting with performers can be so effective and productive.
The Arts in schools have been adversely affected by cuts to education spending in London. We need our children to enjoy the arts from Early Years onwards. Otherwise, it will be the lucky few who are privately educated who will participate in the arts as performers or as audiences in the future.
I would like to see far more opportunity for live music-artists, bands, groups etc. However there has been a huge drop in venues due to several factors.
New property development for investors, usually foreign, has no respect for communities and small local venues. Sometimes there is conflict between venues and new local residence who have moved into the locality knowing there is live music and in these cases judgement has unjustly sided with the residents.
Top musicians need to play live as part of their necessary experience/training and this is so for the whole of their career- including when first stepping out to play in the small local venues that are so important to upcoming musicians. The UK has an admirable history of producing world class musicians but this may soon be at jeopardy if the small music venues continue to vanish.
Other cities in the world have a card for their residents which gets them reduced price entry to their own city’s attractions. We pay for them through our taxes and yet we get charged the same as rich tourists. I never do the tourist bits of London as it is ridiculously expensive. I would also love to be able to bypass a queue of foreign tourists and be allowed to see my own culture. Sadly for me London is now too busy and I want to leave ...
Well...just remember that you can be a "resident" by providing a postcode. An illicit trade in these cards would start up very quickly.
I'm lucky enough to live within a few minutes walk from one of the Royal Parks and about 3 miles from another one. So when I can I walk, run and cycle in them by myself or with family members ,particularly children. I have also supported and cheered on people in events like the London Marathon and volunteered to help in Ride London. I don't go to football games any more due to the high price of professional ones and I'm normally doing something else when amateur ones are played.
In regards to activities in the centre of London or the opposite side of London from where I live, as someone else has pointed out, due to issues with engineering works at the weekend on the London Overground and train network then it is difficult to get in and out so I don't bother. In fact using the bus replacement services when there are train engineering works can be terrifying.
Prioritize trips by children from schools to all cultural activities - opening their minds to museums, theatres, galleries is the finest legacy we can pass on to them.
money! plain and simple, overpriced theatre tickets, the cost of travel and the lack of real quality when you actually get to the theatre- I love opera and ballet and gasp at the price of ROH live cinema tickets. This is nowhere near going live to the theatre. Art, I love art but exhibition tickets are impossible even with pensioner discounts, and most galleries attempt to add a donation on top of the hugely expensive ticket price. Surely, all we are doing is keeping the poor and the young away- in fact, killing off the arts- the very people needed to think and appreciate if the world is to become a peaceful and better place.
It's a long time since I went to the theatre in London and came out thinking it was worth the money and the effort. I find the quality of dialogue and elocution of actors too difficult to hear (or believe); minimal projection or enunciation (a bit like like the BBC) and have not been "moved" by a production for many years. I think the whole cultural side of London is expensive and over-rated. My next booking is Imperium by the RSC in July and I hope that makes a change to my experience so far. However my worst experience was at the Opera Garnier in Paris to see Cosi fan Tutte when on holiday - a blank white stage and a modernist feel that totally distracted from the music; it was nicer to close ones eyes and listen rather than observe the singers and their dancing alter-egos on the stage - no emotion at all - come on you directors/producers - I for one don't want avantgarde productions when I don't go often enough to have seen traditional ones. Far too much of the "emperor's new clothes" around.
Totally agree. Too many "Emperor's new clothes" and too much pretension and dumbing-down
I agree that the Mayor concentrated to give working Londoners a decent night's sleep, rather than trying to promote a '24 hour' society. It is hard to do a days work when there is constant noise throughout the night and screeching people who obviously don't need to get up in the morning!
We don't need a 24 hour culture and we should not try to be in competition with all other cities. London is great in its own unique way and Londoners terrific are too! The history of our great city should be publicised more rather than constantly trying to 'better' the place with new gimmicks.