Mayor calls for continued effort to keep artists in London

Aug 9, 2018 · Boroughs and developers urged to continue supporting artists by providing more affordable spaces

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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on developers and boroughs to continue supporting the capital’s creatives for the good of the UK economy.

New research has today revealed that the number of artist workspaces in the capital has shown signs of stabilising over the last three years, however a shortage of affordable studios, rising rents and the insecurity of short-term leases threatens the future of the capital’s creative workforce.

London’s creative sector contributes £47bn to the UK economy every year and accounts for one in six jobs in the capital, but the threat of Brexit sees rising competition from a number of cities, including Lisbon, Berlin and Amsterdam. This means that it is more important than ever that creatives have studios to create their work – helping to provide jobs, developing the talent of the future, shaping local communities, and maintaining London as the global capital of culture.

The capital’s continued development also poses a threat to the cultural ecology and that’s why Sadiq has made protecting and championing the capital’s cultural venues a priority. His work has included founding the first ever Culture at Risk Office, offering greater protection through his pro-culture draft London Plan; and commissioning a Cultural Infrastructure Plan to identify what is needed in order to sustain London’s future as a cultural capital. He is also developing a Creative Land Trust to help finance affordable creative workspace, and working with boroughs to develop Creative Enterprise Zones to secure permanent, affordable, creative workspaces.

City Hall has also funded a series of new workspace sites in the capital, including at Somerset House, in Westminster, Cobourg Road, in Haringey, and Thamesmead Lakeside Centre, in Bexley, and will continue to do so with the Mayor’s Good Growth Fund helping to provide affordable spaces. These initiatives are more important than ever with studios becoming more expensive over the last three years.

Figures released today by City Hall show that the number of workspace sites in the capital have shown signs of stabilising. At least 39 artist workspaces closed in the capital between 2014 and 2017, but 52 new sites were created.

The number of artist workspaces ‘at risk’ of closing in the next five years has fallen from 28 per cent to 17 per cent over a three-year period, but the Mayor has made clear that there is still much more to do, with very strong demand for studios from artists who are facing rising rents and the insecurity of short-term leases.

The latest research shows that demand for space is incredibly high with 95 per cent of spaces occupied and nearly 14,000 places on waiting lists with 27 site providers.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "London is the world’s creative capital and the workspaces spread across our city are the engine room of this growing economy. It’s vital that there are affordable spaces for artists to flourish, and that’s why I’m working to protect existing sites and support the opening of new spaces. Our creative sector is one of the capital’s biggest strengths, and, now more than ever, we all must do what we can to support artists and help the next generation to thrive."

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