Munira Mirza, London’s deputy mayor for education and culture, has said that the city needs to do more to protect its status as a ‘magnet for artists’.
Writing in the London Evening Standard, Mirza said: ‘The presence of artists has been an immense benefit to the capital, both socially and economically. Tourism, which generates £10 billion for the economy, rests largely on culture.’
Yet despite this, she cautioned that ‘in recent years London seems to be losing its charm as younger artists find it more expensive to live here’. The result, she said, was artists leaving the capital for cities such as Berlin.
Citing the government’s recent decision to make it easier for business premises to be converted to residential homes, she said this had led to commercial developers ‘tearing through creative quarters such as Hackney’. She added: ‘We could lose a third of all artists’ studios in the city in the next five years.’
In her comment piece for the newspaper, she accused many developers of treating cultural strategies as a ‘fig leaf’ for getting planning permission, rather than having any real commitment to the cultural life of their areas.
In response to this, she said City Hall had recently announced regeneration funding for new artists’ studio spaces, adding that it would be using its planning powers ‘to insist that commercial developers work to protect cultural venues’.