Sadiq Khan has said that the post-COVID recovery of London’s beleaguered cultural and creative sectors will be “front and centre” of his plans if he wins a second term as Mayor of London.
It comes days before Londoners vote in the Mayoral elections (on May 6), where Mr Khan is widely expected to secure a victory over his Conservative rival, Shaun Bailey.
The Mayor, who has secured high-profile endorsements from the likes of Dua Lipa, told NME that a second term will see him backing the creation of a new International Centre for Creative Industries in the capital.
“London’s creative industries like nightclubs and music venues have helped power London’s economy for decades and must play a huge role in our economic and social recovery from this pandemic,” Mr Khan told NME. “When I talk about ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ being a key focus of my second term, the culture and creative sectors will be front and centre of that.
“If re-elected, I will put in place a number of measures to create a brighter future for the sector. In terms of music venues specifically, I will continue the crucial work of my City Hall Culture at Risk team to ensure that valuable community cultural and night-time assets aren’t lost to development, planning changes or the impacts of the pandemic.”
He continued: “I will also promote London’s international competitiveness by backing an International Centre for Creative Industries in London, and partner with the creative industries sector to strengthen and diversify the pipeline of young people going into this area of work.”
“Crucially, I will continue to put pressure on the government to do much more to support those at every level of the creative supply chain.”
Mr Khan argued that his track record “consistently stood up for the creative economy and championed the creative and cultural spaces that are threatened in our city”, and that he was proud of “stabilising grassroots venues, artist studios and LGBTQ+ clubs for the first time in decades”.
“I’ve saved, supported and built over 500 grassroots venues and creative spaces through the capital’s first Cultural Infrastructure Plan, my Culture at Risk Office and my new Creative Land Trust – a long term solution to secure affordable studios,” he said.
Last year saw Mr Khan pledging a £450,000 emergency fund to help London grassroots venues “devastated” by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. While many London venues have secured their post-COVID future through initiatives like this, as well as financial aid from the government’s £1.57billion Cultural Recovery Fund, Mr Khan also said he will support the spaces that have fallen through the cracks too.
“The past year has been the hardest in living memory for London’s creative industries, with thousands of people having been furloughed or lost their jobs, and the entire industry turned on its head,” he said. “Despite consistent lobbying, the Government has simply not done enough for many businesses in London’s cultural sectors struggling to stay afloat.
“London needs a mayor that will stand up for the sector, and as the most pro-business mayor London has ever had, I am dedicated to continuing to represent the voices of those in the creative industries – particularly those most under most pressure following this challenging period.
He went on: “Throughout the pandemic, I have had regular meetings with those in the industry to understand what they need in terms of support, and I continue to lobby the Government for this vital support.
“Culture has the power to inspire young Londoners and transform their prospects, and I will continue working to bolster support for London venues and to expand access to culture to every corner of our city.”
And with lockdown restrictions set to be provisionally lifted on June 21, the Mayor said he was “looking forward to a night out at the Vauxhall Tavern”.
“Like many Londoners, I’m very much looking forward to returning to all my favourite London venues, and indeed exploring new ones, when it’s safe to do so,” he said. “You can’t underestimate the value that this sector brings to our lives.”
In other policies, Mr Khan has also vowed to explore the possibility of legalising marijuana in the capital.
A recent study from the Music Venue Trust found that there are currently over 28,500 grassroots gigs booked to take place in England throughout the summer, provided that all goes according to plan with the lifting of COVID restrictions. The MVT are continuing to call upon the government for coronavirus pilot events at a grassroots gig level so that they can know how to proceed safely.