Thumbs up Boris photography by Chris Osburn and includes Charles Saumarez Smith, CEO, Royal Academy of Arts; Yves Carcelle, Chairman and CEO, Louis Vuitton; Margot Heller, Director, South London Gallery; Boris Johnson, Mayor of London; Ralph Rugoff, Director, Hayward Gallery; Susan Whiteley, UK Managing Director, Louis Vuitton; Makota Takahashi (young person involved in the Louis Vuitton Young Arts Project), Roberto Eggs, President, Louis Vuitton Northern Europe
An unprecedented partnership between Louis Vuitton and five of London's leading art institutions - Hayward Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, South London Gallery, Tate Britain and Whitechapel Gallery - officially commenced today with a thumbs up speech by Mayor Boris Johnson at the Royal Academy of Arts this morning. For obvious reasons, Mr Johnson was in a jovial mood, but at least a smidgen of his glee had less to do with politics than with the launch of this LV funded initiative. Bragging that London has more museums than Paris and more bookshops than New York, the mayor explained that “to keep our lead as the artistic and cultural capital of the world,” such partnerships were necessary. To back up his assertion, he suggested that artists such as JMW Turner - whom the mayor reckoned to be “one of God's greatest gifts to painting” - may never have become such an important artist if not for the time Turner spent viewing artworks at the RAC as a teen. On a more personal note, the mayor reflected that spending hours in museums as a youth helped make him “who I am today”.
According to South London Gallery director, Margot Heller, the Louis Vuitton Young Arts Project aims to increase the numbers of young people involved in the arts, to “up the ante” with respect to the types of activities young artists can engage in and to create an environment of enthusiasm for participants.
The project will be led and managed by the South London Gallery hand-in-hand with Vuitton and the other four institutions. Each of the five institutions will host a panel of youths aged 13-25. Recruited from local borough schools and community groups throughout London, the young artists will visit exhibitions, be given exclusive tours and “back of house” access to “the inner workings of the art world” and attend creative sessions led by artists, collectors and museum directors.
So what's in it for the French luxury leather goods brand? Keeping up a long tradition of arts patronage, including sponsorship of numerous exhibitions at major institutions, Louis and co sees the Young Arts Project as an excellent way to extend opportunities to younger, often less privileged people to access the art world. They also thought it'd be a neat way to celebrate the opening of their New Bond Street Maison.