This is a sponsored article on behalf of the City of London Corporation and the Mayor of London.
Londoners are a creative bunch. The capital's trailblazing, vibrant and diverse arts scene is its lifeblood. But the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has dealt a serious blow to the sector — and, in order to bounce back, it needs your support now more than ever.
This Christmas, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and William Russell, Lord Mayor of the City of London, have teamed up to champion London's creativity. We asked both mayors what they are doing to protect creative businesses during this incredibly tough time, and how you can help aid their recovery.
Read on to see what they had to say and follow @LDN_Culture, #LondonTogether and #OurCityTogether on social for more inspiration.
What is it you love about London?
SK: London is the greatest city in the world and one of the things I love most about it is the unrivalled breadth and quality of our arts and culture. Our city is home to world-leading museums, theatres, music venues and galleries and we have some of the finest artists and performers anywhere on the planet.
Not only does this help to create jobs and boost our economy and tourism, but it supports our mental health and brings people together. For me, our culture and creative industries don’t just reflect London and who we are, it’s fundamental in shaping us as a city too. That’s why I’m so passionate about doing everything I can to support our cultural businesses and institutions during this extremely difficult time.
WR: There is no place like London — it buzzes with creative energy and talent that, in my view, you won’t find anywhere else in the world. London has a thriving creative sector and many thousands of talented individuals and organisations at its helm. It’s this that gives London its lifeblood, attracting thousands of international visitors and keeping people living and working here, rather than any other global city.
How are you helping London’s creative businesses?
SK: We must support and protect our creative businesses because they not only form a key part of the fabric of our city, but they will undoubtedly play an important role in helping London recover from this pandemic. As Mayor, I launched a £2.3m emergency fund to help some of the most at-risk small businesses within the culture and creative sector. My Culture at Risk office, set up to protect cultural and creative spaces across the capital, has helped more than 660 creative businesses and venues so far this year. And I’ve continued to stand up for the cultural sector in London by demanding the necessary support and funding from the Government.
WR: The first step was to recognise how they were suffering during the pandemic and the next, to think quickly about what could be done. I recognise the vital role that culture plays for all of us in London so, bringing together my colleagues at the City of London Corporation and Culture Mile, I set up the Culture & Commerce Taskforce. By working closely with them and senior leaders from across the culture, civic and commercial sectors, we can look at new ways in which we can support the regrowth of the creative sector and the role that it can play in London’s economic recovery.
How can Londoners help?
SK: There are some great ways Londoners can help creative businesses. You can support our Pay It Forward crowdfunding initiative to help protect our artist studios, creative spaces, grassroots music venues and more. You can choose to shop at creative businesses this Christmas.
And there are also some fantastic initiatives to support our brilliant creatives and artists that you can get involved with. This includes Not On The West End, which is a curated directory of small businesses set up by people who usually make their living working in London theatre, and We Built This City, which showcases art, gifts and souvenirs made from some of London’s most exciting creatives.
WR: As well as following the Government’s advice about how to stay safe and protect each other during the pandemic, Londoners should support the capital’s creative sector in any way they can — for example, buying tickets for future events, buying presents from their shops, and donating — because, now more than ever, we need people to recognise their valued place in our community and help them survive this challenging time. London’s arts venues are still providing a world-class cultural offer and supporting artists during the pandemic. They are making a hugely valuable contribution to the UK’s creative scene and they will be a cornerstone of the UK’s economic recovery.
What is your message to Londoners this Christmas?
SK: We still have a long way to go until the end of this crisis, but with the positive news about the COVID vaccines, there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel. At this crucial time of the year, I’d urge Londoners to show their support in any way they can to help London’s high streets and cultural businesses as we all make our decisions about where to shop and what to do this Christmas. I’d also urge Londoners to ensure that they follow the Covid guidelines and shop safely if they are heading out to their local shops. I know that if we stay united and look out for one another we can help to protect our economy and ensure our city gets through this, together.
WR: There is no denying that this will be a very different — not to say, tough — Christmas for everyone because, to use the buzz word of 2020, these are ‘unprecedented’ times. But we will come through this and, whenever we can and whenever it is safe to do so, we must engage in the culture and creative sectors — see a film, order a book by a new writer, pay to watch a ‘streamed’ theatre production. We need to cherish what we’ve got here so that, in 2021, we can once again enjoy everything that London’s incredible creative scene has to offer.
Follow @LDN_Culture on Twitter with #LondonTogether and #OurCityTogether for a daily advent calendar unveil at 10am to celebrate and support London's culture and creative businesses.