City of London debate throws spotlight on technology during pandemic and democratisation of culture

Experts from the Royal Shakespeare Company, TikTok, and a leading virtual reality art company will be among those discussing how technology has democratised culture and sustained society during the pandemic at a ‘cultural conversation’ next week.

The City of London Corporation, the governing body of the Square Mile, and the Genesis Foundation, which champions the work of young actors, directors, playwrights and musicians, are co-hosting a series of free ‘Cultural Conversations’ that bring together major figures from London’s arts and cultural scene.

Culture, Technology and Innovation is the fourth discussion in the series and will take place online via Vimeo on 24 May from 5pm - 6:30pm and can be booked at

Hosted virtually by Lord Mayor of the City of London, William Russell, at The Mansion House and chaired by London-based culture writer for The New York Times, Farah Nayeri, the panel includes:

  • Artistic Director, Javaad Alipoor Company, Javaad Alipoor
  • Artistic Director, Acute Art, Daniel Birnbaum
  • Director Digital Development, Royal Shakespeare Company, Sarah Ellis
  • Strategic Projects, Google, Suhair Khan
  • General Manager UK & EU, TikTok, Rich Waterworth

Among the topics under discussion, the informal conversation is expected to examine a wide range of issues, including:

  • how many new people are involved in culture who weren't able to access it before, and how has this changed the cultural landscape and the output?
  • to what extent has technology democratised the arts and access to the arts?
  • why there can no leadership without technology leadership
  • how technology has sustained us through the pandemic and continues to redefine how we work, live, and interact
  • what is the responsibility of those that make art to not just reach new audiences, but also to engage, effect, and sustain change?

Lord Mayor William Russell said:

“The COVID pandemic has seen many people - not least, those of us who are enthusiastic consumers of art and culture - relying heavily on technology, not just to communicate, but also to keep ourselves informed and entertained.

“This fourth cultural conversation brings together a hugely impressive panel of guests, who will generate a lively and thought-provoking discussion with the online audience.”

Founder and Chairman of the Genesis Foundation, John Studzinski CBE, said:

"We are pleased to continue our support into 2021 for the Lord Mayor’s Cultural Conversations. Mentoring, networks, and relationships reflect the work that we do, and conversation lies at the heart of that.

“The forthcoming discussion focuses on culture, technology, and innovation, and we hope that it will spark new relationships, ideas, and projects. Conversation and culture energize each other.”

The event forms part of Lord Mayor William Russell’s mayoral theme - ‘Global UK – Trade, Innovation & Culture’, which he is promoting at home and during virtual overseas visits during his mayoralty, and follows the recent publication of the Fuelling Creative Renewal report by the Culture and Commerce Taskforce, which he convened and chaired.

The City of London Corporation is the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities in the UK and invests over £130m every year.

In partnership with the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra, and Museum of London, the City of London Corporation is leading the development of Culture Mile between Farringdon and Moorgate, the City of London’s new cultural district, building a world-class hub of creativity, innovation and learning.


Notes for Editors:

Andrew Buckingham, Media Officer (Arts and Culture), City of London Corporation

07795 333060 /

About the City of London Corporation:

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. 

About the Genesis Foundation:

The Genesis Foundation was founded by John Studzinski CBE in 2001. Over the past 20 years, the Foundation has donated more than £20million to the arts. Through its funding and partnership model, it has enabled opportunities for thousands of young artists in theatre and music, building both their experience and their resilience. Its main focus is on partnerships with leading arts organisations such as the Young Vic, National Theatre, Almeida Theatre, LAMDA, and The Sixteen, and on training programmes that equip emerging artists for life as a creative professional. In 2021, through the Genesis Kickstart Fund, the Foundation will start allocating £1m in grants for future-facing projects that provide paid work for freelance creative professionals.

About Culture Mile:

Culture Mile is the City of London’s new cultural district, stretching from Farringdon to Moorgate. Led by the City of London Corporation, with the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and Museum of London, the five partners are together creating a vibrant, creative area in the north-west corner of the Square Mile. Alongside animating the whole district with imaginative collaborations and events, delivering major enhancements to the streets and improving wayfinding, Culture Mile will be working with organisations from across the City to build a world-class hub of creativity, innovation and learning that delivers economic growth and social mobility for London.