Culture Mile: A major destination for culture and creativity in the heart of the Square Mile

Culture Mile: The City's creative exchange

The City of London Corporation, together with the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and Museum of London, have announced plans for a major destination for culture and creativity in the Square Mile.

Unveiled today as ‘Culture Mile’, this ambitious and transformational initiative will create a vibrant cultural area in the north-west corner of the City over the next 10 to 15 years. Stretching just under a mile from Farringdon to Moorgate, Culture Mile will have creative exchange, cultural collaboration and learning at its core in an area where 2,000 years of history collide with the world’s best in culture.

Culture Mile’s core partners are all internationally acclaimed organisations in their own right and some partnerships already operate across these institutions. Over the next decade and beyond, the five partners, led by the City of London Corporation, will transform the area, improving their offer to audiences with imaginative collaborations, outdoor programming and events seven days a week. Links between venues will be improved and major enhancements to the streets and wider public realm will enliven the area which, as Culture Mile expands and flourishes, will be regenerated.

Crossrail’s new Elizabeth Line connections at Farringdon and Moorgate, which open in December 2018, will make it much easier to travel to, and from, the City. Around 1.5 million additional visitors a year will be within a 45-minute journey of the area when the Elizabeth Line becomes fully operational in December 2019 and the North-South Thameslink line is upgraded. Farringdon will have direct access to three major London airports with a 30-minute journey time from London Heathrow. It will be the only place where London Underground, Thameslink and Crossrail all interlink and will be one of the busiest stations in the UK, making the area more connected than ever to London and beyond.

There are three major building projects associated with Culture Mile which enhance its potential scale and ambition:

  • the new Museum of London* at West Smithfield, which is already developing its designs
  • the proposed Centre for Music**, for which the preferred site is currently occupied by the Museum of London – has recently announced the shortlist of world class architects competing to develop the concept design for a state-of-the-art building of acoustic and visual excellence.
  • the transformation of Beech Street***, which will become a crucial axis for Culture Mile. The City of London Corporation is assessing how best to transform Beech Street, to make it a more welcoming environment, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists, including new measures to improve air quality, introducing retail units and providing better access to the existing cultural destinations either side of it. There will be consultation on the proposals to achieve these aims.

The City of London Corporation is working to improve the environment and urban realm across Culture Mile through a programme that delivers better way-finding, signage, green spaces, lighting, public information and art installations. To signal the first steps in the animation and transformation of the area, Culture Mile Pop Ups is unveiled today featuring a range of temporary art installations, gardens and signage. Later this year there will be a new public realm strategy designed by Fluid, setting out how to create a series of connected places, forming a world-renowned destination that relishes its contrasts and places culture at its heart. This strategy forms part of a City-wide programme of public realm improvements across the Square Mile including improving air quality through a new Low Emission Neighbourhood around the Barbican and Golden Lane Estate area.

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation said, “We are redefining the City of London, so that the Square Mile becomes known and admired as much for being a world-class cultural destination, as for its position as a leading global financial centre. Culture has been at its heart for centuries, alongside commerce, and now more than ever, arts and culture are vital to the UK economy and our position in the world. As one of the country’s largest funders of cultural activities, we stand firmly behind Culture Mile. There is no doubt that Culture Mile will transform the area and in the face of Brexit send a signal to the world that London is – and will always be – a welcoming, open, and resolutely internationalist city.”

Sharon Ament, Director, Museum of London; Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican Centre; Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director, London Symphony Orchestra; Lynne Williams, Principal Guildhall School said, “This is a once in generation opportunity to regenerate the north-west of the City from Farringdon to Moorgate and to work together to transform Culture Mile into a world-leading cultural and creative destination. With the arrival of Crossrail, vastly increased numbers of people will have access to the area; Culture Mile is at the start of its journey and the partners will collaborate more closely, improve the environment, provide better access, enliven the area with outdoor programming, be more family friendly and celebrate learning at its core. We will develop a wider network of organisations who share a commitment to help transform the area over the next decade and to create a vibrant creative community.”

Culture Mile Pop Ups features a range of temporary art installations, gardens and signage:

  • Artist Morag Myerscough brings Joy and Peace to Culture Mile with large-scale, vivid installations along Silk Street from July to October 2017.
  • Lighting installation Shadowing from Playable City and Chomko & Rosier creates playful moments of discovery and engagement across Culture Mile from July to October 2017.
  • The first of a series of photographic commissions on hoardings at the new Museum of London site in West Smithfield. The hoardings designed by KK Outlet features photographs by Vicky Grout, a leading photographer of the London grime scene, of Londoners who work around the Smithfield area.
  • A community garden on Moor Lane created and run by volunteers as part of the City’s Low Emission Neighbourhood. Additional work is planned, including new electric vehicle charging infrastructure, green taxi ranks and planting and growing projects designed to improve air quality and enhance way-finding and the visitor experience.

Outdoor Culture Mile events and activities over the next 12 months to include:

  • The Museum of London is one major hub of the wider Archikids family festival on 22 - 23 July. It takes place in venues across the City of London including the Smithfield Rotunda Garden and offers a chance to be inspired by architecture across the City in a weekend extravaganza of free family activities. In partnership with Open City.
  • Folk in a Box is a one-to-one performance venue that provides a unique musical experience for Culture Mile in August.
  • There is an ambition to hold a cultural event in Beech Street over the next year offering an opportunity to explore it as a cultural space. More information to be announced in due course.
  • A series of walking trails around Culture Mile will be available later in the year focusing on ‘ancient and modern’, ‘families’ and ‘quiet spaces’. These will be available to download at and in print across partner venues.

Collaborative programming across partner venues includes:

  • From 14 - 24 September 2017 the LSO, Barbican and Guildhall School are working together on This Is Rattle – a ten-day festival welcoming Sir Simon Rattle as the new Music Director of the LSO and Barbican Guildhall Artist-in-Association. As part of the season, Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning presents Interlock: Friends Pictured Within. A new cross arts multimedia installation by artist Jonathan Munro and musician Anna Meredith - with over 100 participants from East London – it explores Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and is free for audiences to explore in the Barbican’s foyers. The Barbican and the LSO are also collaborating on a free foyer installation - Rattle Recast is a joint commission which invited artists and designers who work across art and digital technology to respond to data of Rattle conducting in a motion capture studio. The chosen artists’ work will be on display for free throughout the autumn.
  • All Culture Mile partners will come together on 17 & 18 March 2018 to create a weekend of fun, free activity for all. It includes the Barbican's OpenFest with collaborations from the Guildhall School; a youth festival as part of the Museum of London’s year-long City Now City Future season which explores the joys and frustrations of city life; and composer days at LSO St Luke's.
  • The Barbican and the Guildhall School’s increasingly close artistic relationship continues with pianist Jeremy Denk as the Milton Court Artist in Residence in the 2017/18 season. There are also masterclasses with Guildhall School students from visiting Barbican and LSO artists including Jeremy Denk and Gianandrea Noseda; opportunities for extended coaching and side-by-side learning with LSO Principals; involvement of young actors from the Guildhall School in Barbican operatic stagings; and the Guildhall’s Electronic Music and Jazz students continue to perform every year as part of the Barbican Cinema’s ongoing Silent Film & Live Music series.
  • The LSO Platforms: Guildhall Artists series continues with nine pre-LSO concert performances by senior Guildhall musicians on the Barbican stage.
  • Friday Lunchtimes at LSO St Luke’s will feature the Barbican’s ECHO Rising Stars series interspersed between 20 BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concerts and 12 Discovery Friday Lunchtimes with LSO Principals and Guildhall musicians.
  • Barbican Cinema and the Guildhall School present a Film Music Masterclass with composer and Guildhall School alumnus Stephen Endelman in Cinema 1, in October 2017.
  • The City Family Arts Network, presenting a joint family offer for different age-groups across Culture Mile, is coordinated across 14 different organisations including Culture Mile partners along with Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Monument, Guildhall Art Gallery, The City Centre, Charterhouse, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Barbican Children’s Library.
  • The City Stories programme introduces pupils from the City academies to the history of Culture Mile.
  • The School Visits Fund enables pupils from disadvantaged communities to visit the City’s superb attractions.

Culture Mile Learning brings together organisations across the City and beyond to work together on an unprecedented scale to build a world-leading learning destination, specialising in the fusion of the creative, technical, educational and emotional skills needed for success in the 21st century. This will be achieved through a programme of targeted learning opportunities that enable access and progression, particularly for underserved groups. Culture Mile Learning is responding to recent research which highlights that employers are reporting that it is increasingly difficult to find people with the fusion of creative and technological skills that they need to stay innovative.

Culture Mile Network

Over the coming months Culture Mile will develop an extensive network of organisations in and around the area which will play a critical role in realising the ambitions of Culture Mile, alongside the five core partners. These organisations represent the continuing and changing face of the City of London and share the commitment to help transform the area. It is announced today that the ABRSM, Beaumont UK, Charterhouse, City Music Foundation, City University, Grange Hotels, Institute of Ideas, Land Sec, One Square Mile, Royal Shakespeare Company, St Giles’ Cripplegate and City Churches and the University of Liverpool in London have agreed to join the network at the beginning of its journey and the group will continue to grow over the coming months. More details will be announced about Culture Mile’s network later in the year.

Culture Mile is the north-west corner of the Square Mile and covers 45 hectares/c.110 acres which is over 15% of the total area of the Square Mile. It has a blend of ancient and modern with Roman walls, mediaeval churches and livery halls close to new Crossrail stations, modern apartment blocks and a steady pipeline of cutting edge office developments and is what makes Culture Mile unique. There is a growing community of city workers, residents, students, cultural and creative industry workers and visitors. From 2018 extensive new office spaces across Culture Mile will see an extra 15,000 city workers by 2023 including companies such as Schroders PLC. The St Bart’s, Barbican and Golden Lane Estates provide around 3,500 apartments whilst new hotels, bars and restaurants are planned across the area. Culture Mile is one of the greenest parts of the City.

The City is the ancient heart of London, drawing millions of visitors with its unique combination of authenticity, heritage and innovation. It is one of Europe’s densest commercial areas with 17,980 businesses and 8.7 million square metres of office space, but there are also over 200 gardens, churchyards, parks and piazzas scattered throughout the Square Mile. Culture Mile will be one corner of the City’s thriving environment with St Paul’s Cathedral, Guildhall, Tower Bridge, the financial district, Tech City and the River Thames all within a short walking distance. Culture Mile aims to connect with the wider City, and to create a vibrant creative community.



Notes to Editors

*New Museum of London

The new Museum of London site at West Smithfield, which is benefitting from £110 million in funding from the City of London Corporation and £80 million funding from the Mayor of London, is located in the City of London and covers approximately 25,000 sq m. These derelict Victorian buildings comprising the Smithfield General Market, the Fish Market, the Red House and the Engine House, sit at the Farringdon Road end of West Smithfield, where records show there has been a market for nearly 1,000 years and archaeological remains go back to the Bronze Age – so there could hardly be a more fitting site for London’s new museum. The new museum will aim to broaden its visitor profile and double its visitor attendance from one million to more than two million, displaying much more of its rich collection of over 6 million items, telling the 2,000-year story of London, in 8,000m2 of permanent gallery space plus 1,500m2 of temporary exhibition space. This ambitious project will deliver significant economic and social benefits for London and Londoners, including traineeship opportunities across London and approximately 1,700 new jobs. Locating a new museum at West Smithfield will significantly contribute to the continuing rejuvenation of the Smithfield area and build on the opportunities presented by the new Crossrail station at Farringdon, as well as being an integral part of Culture Mile.

**Centre for Music

The City of London Corporation has provided £2.5 million in funding for the Barbican, London Symphony Orchestra and Guildhall School of Music & Drama to complete a detailed business case for a world-class Centre for Music in the Square Mile. At the heart of the vision for the Centre for Music are proposals for a landmark building containing a world-class concert hall for the digital age and an ambitious, educational offer to bring music-making to the widest possible audience. The architects shortlisted to compete to develop the concept design was announced on 10 July, and comprises AL_A (UK) and Diamond Schmitt Architects (Canada); Diller Scofidio + Renfro (USA) and Sheppard Robson (UK); Foster + Partners (UK); Gehry Partners, LLP (USA) and Arup Associates (UK); Renzo Piano Building Workshop (France) and Snøhetta (Norway). The Centre would be a permanent home to the London Symphony Orchestra. It will also host performances from the Barbican’s family of Associate orchestras and ensembles, as well as performances from touring artists and orchestras from across the UK and the world across a range of genres. The preferred site for the Centre for Music, which the City of London Corporation has agreed in principle to make available, is currently occupied by the Museum of London, and will become available when the Museum of London fulfils its ambition to move to a larger site at West Smithfield. Work on the business case is ongoing and will be completed by December 2018.

***Beech Street

The City of London Corporation recognises the importance of Beech Street as a vital east – west route and the backbone of Culture Mile and it is a major priority for improvement. The City Corporation is assessing how best to transform Beech Street, to make it a more welcoming environment, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists, including new measures to improve air quality, introducing retail units and providing better access to the existing cultural destinations either side of it. There will be consultation on the proposals to achieve these aims.

Culture Mile Learning aims to:

  • develop pathways that ensure young people and adults from disadvantaged communities are able to access high quality cultural experiences, develop the skills for success and thrive within the workforce of Culture Mile’s institutions and beyond.
  • work intensively with other London boroughs to collaborate and make a real difference to life chances, through programmes both within and outside the City.
  • develop the physical and digital infrastructure that will enable access to cultural experiences.

Culture Mile brand strategy and identity

Culture Mile's brand strategy was devised by consultants Jane Wentworth Associates, with the brand identity led by Marina Willer at Pentagram. The name 'Culture Mile' is a nod to the City's 'Square Mile' and to redefining the area as a global leader in both commerce and culture.

About Culture Mile

Culture Mile is a corner of London’s working capital, where creativity is fast becoming the most valuable currency. The City of London Corporation together with the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of London, are leading the animation of the whole neighbourhood with imaginative collaborations and events. Culture Mile brings commerce and culture together in a wealth of creativity. Known meets unknown. Ancient and modern collide as the streets are activated by exhibitions, gigs, pop-ups and events. So whether you’re with family, friends or flying solo, there’s something for everyone. And thanks to Crossrail’s new Elizabeth Line connections at Farringdon and Moorgate, the area is more connected than ever. Join us today where two thousand years of history collide with the world’s best culture. www.culturemile.londonAbout the City of London Corporation The City of London Corporation provides local government and policing services for the financial and commercial heart of Britain, the 'Square Mile'. In addition, the City Corporation has three roles:

  • We support London’s communities by working in partnership with neighbouring boroughs on economic regeneration, education and skills. In addition, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, makes grants of around £20 million annually to tackle disadvantage across London.
  • We also help look after key London heritage and green spaces including Tower Bridge, the Museum of London, Barbican Arts Centre, City gardens, Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest, Burnham Beeches, and important commons in London.
  • We also support and promote the ‘City’ as a world-leading financial and business hub, with outward and inward business delegations, high-profile civic events and research-driven policies, all reflecting a long-term approach.

About the Barbican A world-class arts and learning organisation, the Barbican pushes the boundaries of all major art forms including dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts. Its creative learning programme further underpins everything it does. Over 1.1 million people attend events annually, hundreds of artists and performers are featured, and more than 300 staff work onsite. The architecturally renowned centre opened in 1982 and comprises the Barbican Hall, the Barbican Theatre, The Pit, Cinemas One, Two and Three, Barbican Art Gallery, a second gallery The Curve, foyers and public spaces, a library, Lakeside Terrace, a glasshouse conservatory, conference facilities and three restaurants. The City of London Corporation is the founder and principal funder of the Barbican Centre. The Barbican is home to Resident Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra; Associate Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra; Associate Ensembles the Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia, Associate Producer Serious, and Artistic Partner Create. Our Artistic Associates include Boy Blue EntertainmentCheek by Jowl, Deborah Warner, Drum Works and Michael Clark Company. International Associates are Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of AmsterdamNew York PhilharmonicLos Angeles Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Find us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube 

About the Guildhall School of Music & Drama The Guildhall School is a vibrant, international community of young musicians, actors and theatre technicians in the heart of the City of London. Twice-rated No.1 specialist institution in the UK by the Guardian University Guide, and recently selected as one of the top ten institutions for performing arts in the world (QS World University Rankings 2016), the School is a global leader of creative and professional practice which promotes innovation, experiment and research, with over 900 students in higher education, drawn from nearly 60 countries around the world. It is also the UK’s leading provider of specialist music training at the under-18 level with nearly 2,500 students in Junior Guildhall and Centre for Young Musicians. The School is widely recognised for the quality of its teaching and its graduates, and its new building, Milton Court which opened in September 2013, offers state-of-the-art facilities to match the talent within its walls, ensuring that students enter their chosen profession at the highest level.

About the London Symphony Orchestra The LSO was established in 1904 and has a unique ethos. As a musical collective, it is built on artistic ownership and partnership. With an inimitable signature sound, the LSO’s mission is to bring the greatest music to the greatest number of people. The LSO has been the only Resident Orchestra at the Barbican Centre in the City of London since it opened in 1982, giving 70 symphonic concerts there every year. Through LSO Discovery, it is a pioneer of music education, offering musical experiences to 60,000 people every year. With the formation of its own record label LSO Live in 1999 the LSO pioneered a revolution in recording live orchestral music. The LSO strives to embrace new digital technologies – having successfully moved into digital film, Blu-Ray Audio, downloads, streaming and virtual reality – and it continues to innovate with platforms such as LSO Play, a web-based video player that allows people to observe the Orchestra from different angles. The LSO is also a highly successful creative enterprise, with 80% of all funding self-generated. Sir Simon Rattle becomes the LSO’s Music Director in September 2017. An ambitious artistic vision, with access to great music for everyone at its heart, was announced in January 2017.

About the Museum of LondonThe Museum of London tells the ever-changing story of this great world city and its people, from 450,000 BC to the present day. Our galleries, exhibitions, displays and activities seek to inspire a passion for London and provide a sense of the vibrancy that makes the city such a unique place.

In close collaboration with our funders the City of London Corporation and Greater London Authority, the Museum of London will contribute to our shared goal of making the local area a world-class Cultural Hub.

The museums are open daily 10am – 6pm and are FREE to all, and you can explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 80,000 objects with more being added.

About Jane Wentworth Associates

Jane Wentworth Associates are international leaders in brand for the cultural sector; with proven expertise in brand and communication strategies, visual and verbal identity and internal staff engagement programmes. They provide big-picture thinking combined with practical recommendations. Their work helps cultural organisations develop stronger reputations, be more commercially effective and attract new audiences. Founded in 2003 and based in Dalston, East London, they're a company of individual experts with a shared purpose to help culture thrive. Their clients range from grand institutions like the V&A and the Royal Academy of Arts to experimental performance venues like the Roundhouse and the Royal Court. Their work extends into place-making too: they helped devise a brand strategy for the newly energised Exhibition Road in Kensington and are currently consulting on two projects – the Oxford Road partnership and Factory Manchester – which both aim to rebalance the skewed cultural ecology of the UK. @JWALondon

About Fluid: Architecture I Urbanism I Participation

Fluid sits on the threshold between architecture, traditional planning and creative practice offering a dynamic approach to planning and urban design. It is an ambitious practice recognised through awards for stretching boundaries and ensuring the relevance of design through collaboration and participation. Bespoke teams address complex situations and the multiple requirements of stakeholders and local people to build propositions that are fresh, relevant, distinct and real. Fluid works across all scales from area strategies to discrete urban interventions and one off buildings that are both finite outcomes and important catalysts for larger scale, longer-term change. Research-based and participatory practice and creative narrative approaches inform project objectives that define change and build ownership. Proposals are unique for each situation and reunite the spatial and urban with wider understandings of people, place, history and economy.