Culture Mile: The City’s creative exchange The City of London Corporation, together with the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and Museum of London, have announced plans for a major destination for culture and creativity in the Square Mile.

Unveiled today as ‘Culture Mile’, this ambitious and transformational initiative will create a vibrant cultural area in the north-west corner of the City over the next 10 to 15 years. Stretching just under a mile from Farringdon to Moorgate, Culture Mile will have creative exchange, cultural collaboration and learning at its core in an area where 2,000 years of history collide with the world’s best in culture.

Culture Mile’s core partners are all internationally acclaimed organisations in their own right and some partnerships already operate across these institutions. Over the next decade and beyond, the five partners, led by the City of London Corporation, will transform the area, improving their offer to audiences with imaginative collaborations, outdoor programming and events seven days a week. Links between venues will be improved and major enhancements to the streets and wider public realm will enliven the area which, as Culture Mile expands and flourishes, will be regenerated.

Crossrail’s new Elizabeth Line connections at Farringdon and Moorgate, which open in December 2018, will make it much easier to travel to, and from, the City. Around 1.5 million additional visitors a year will be within a 45-minute journey of the area when the Elizabeth Line becomes fully operational in December 2019 and the North-South Thameslink line is upgraded. Farringdon will have direct access to three major London airports with a 30-minute journey time from London Heathrow. It will be the only place where London Underground, Thameslink and Crossrail all interlink and will be one of the busiest stations in the UK, making the area more connected than ever to London and beyond.

There are three major building projects associated with Culture Mile which enhance its potential scale and ambition:

  • the new Museum of London at West Smithfield, which is already developing its designs
  • the proposed Centre for Music, for which the preferred site is currently occupied by the Museum of London – has recently announced the shortlist of world class architects competing to develop the concept design for a state-of-the-art building of acoustic and visual excellence.
  • the transformation of Beech Street, which will become a crucial axis for Culture Mile. The City of London Corporation is assessing how best to transform Beech Street, to make it a more welcoming environment, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists, including new measures to improve air quality, introducing retail units and providing better access to the existing cultural destinations either side of it. There will be consultation on the proposals to achieve these aims.

The City of London Corporation is working to improve the environment and urban realm across Culture Mile through a programme that delivers better way-finding, signage, green spaces, lighting, public information and art installations. To signal the first steps in the animation and transformation of the area, Culture Mile Pop Ups is unveiled today featuring a range of temporary art installations, gardens and signage. Later this year there will be a new public realm strategy designed by Fluid, setting out how to create a series of connected places, forming a world-renowned destination that relishes its contrasts and places culture at its heart. This strategy forms part of a City-wide programme of public realm improvements across the Square Mile including improving air quality through a new Low Emission Neighbourhood around the Barbican and Golden Lane Estate area.

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation said, “We are redefining the City of London, so that the Square Mile becomes known and admired as much for being a world-class cultural destination, as for its position as a leading global financial centre. Culture has been at its heart for centuries, alongside commerce, and now more than ever, arts and culture are vital to the UK economy and our position in the world. As one of the country’s largest funders of cultural activities, we stand firmly behind Culture Mile. There is no doubt that Culture Mile will transform the area and in the face of Brexit send a signal to the world that London is – and will always be – a welcoming, open, and resolutely internationalist city.”

Sharon Ament, Director, Museum of London; Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican Centre; Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director, London Symphony Orchestra; Lynne Williams, Principal Guildhall School said, “This is a once in generation opportunity to regenerate the north-west of the City from Farringdon to Moorgate and to work together to transform Culture Mile into a world-leading cultural and creative destination. With the arrival of Crossrail, vastly increased numbers of people will have access to the area; Culture Mile is at the start of its journey and the partners will collaborate more closely, improve the environment, provide better access, enliven the area with outdoor programming, be more family friendly and celebrate learning at its core. We will develop a wider network of organisations who share a commitment to help transform the area over the next decade and to create a vibrant creative community.”

Culture Mile Pop Ups features a range of temporary art installations, gardens and signage:

  • Artist Morag Myerscough brings Joy and Peace to Culture Mile with large-scale, vivid installations along Silk Street from July to October 2017.
  • Lighting installation Shadowing from Playable City and Chomko & Rosier creates playful moments of discovery and engagement across Culture Mile from July to October 2017.
  • The first of a series of photographic commissions on hoardings at the new Museum of London site in West Smithfield. The hoardings designed by KK Outlet features photographs by Vicky Grout, a leading photographer of the London grime scene, of Londoners who work around the Smithfield area.
  • A community garden on Moor Lane created and run by volunteers as part of the City’s Low Emission Neighbourhood. Additional work is planned, including new electric vehicle charging infrastructure, green taxi ranks and planting and growing projects designed to improve air quality and enhance way-finding and the visitor experience.

Outdoor Culture Mile events and activities over the next 12 months to include:

  • The Museum of London is one major hub of the wider Archikids family festival on 22 - 23 July. It takes place in venues across the City of London including the Smithfield Rotunda Garden and offers a chance to be inspired by architecture across the City in a weekend extravaganza of free family activities. In partnership with Open City.
  • Folk in a Box is a one-to-one performance venue that provides a unique musical experience for Culture Mile in August.
  • There is an ambition to hold a cultural event in Beech Street over the next year offering an opportunity to explore it as a cultural space. More information to be announced in due course.
  • A series of walking trails around Culture Mile will be available later in the year focusing on ‘ancient and modern’, ‘families’ and ‘quiet spaces’. These will be available to download at and in print across partner venues.

Collaborative programming across partner venues includes:

  • From 14 - 24 September 2017 the LSO, Barbican and Guildhall School are working together on This Is Rattle – a ten-day festival welcoming Sir Simon Rattle as the new Music Director of the LSO and Barbican Guildhall Artist-in-Association. As part of the season, Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning presents Interlock: Friends Pictured Within. A new cross arts multimedia installation by artist Jonathan Munro and musician Anna Meredith - with over 100 participants from East London – it explores Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and is free for audiences to explore in the Barbican’s foyers. The Barbican and the LSO are also collaborating on a free foyer installation - Rattle Recast is a joint commission which invited artists and designers who work across art and digital technology to respond to data of Rattle conducting in a motion capture studio. The chosen artists’ work will be on display for free throughout the autumn.
  • All Culture Mile partners will come together on 17 & 18 March 2018 to create a weekend of fun, free activity for all. It includes the Barbican's OpenFest with collaborations from the Guildhall School; a youth festival as part of the Museum of London’s year-long City Now City Future season which explores the joys and frustrations of city life; and composer days at LSO St Luke's.
  • The Barbican and the Guildhall School’s increasingly close artistic relationship continues with pianist Jeremy Denk as the Milton Court Artist in Residence in the 2017/18 season. There are also masterclasses with Guildhall School students from visiting Barbican and LSO artists including Jeremy Denk and Gianandrea Noseda; opportunities for extended coaching and side-by-side learning with LSO Principals; involvement of young actors from the Guildhall School in Barbican operatic stagings; and the Guildhall’s Electronic Music and Jazz students continue to perform every year as part of the Barbican Cinema’s ongoing Silent Film & Live Music series.
  • The LSO Platforms: Guildhall Artists series continues with nine pre-LSO concert performances by senior Guildhall musicians on the Barbican stage.
  • Friday Lunchtimes at LSO St Luke’s will feature the Barbican’s ECHO Rising Stars series interspersed between 20 BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concerts and 12 Discovery Friday Lunchtimes with LSO Principals and Guildhall musicians.
  • Barbican Cinema and the Guildhall School present a Film Music Masterclass with composer and Guildhall School alumnus Stephen Endelman in Cinema 1, in October 2017.
  • The City Family Arts Network, presenting a joint family offer for different age-groups across Culture Mile, is coordinated across 14 different organisations including Culture Mile partners along with Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Monument, Guildhall Art Gallery, The City Centre, Charterhouse, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Barbican Children’s Library.
  • The City Stories programme introduces pupils from the City academies to the history of Culture Mile.
  • The School Visits Fund enables pupils from disadvantaged communities to visit the City’s superb attractions.

Culture Mile Learning brings together organisations across the City and beyond to work together on an unprecedented scale to build a world-leading learning destination, specialising in the fusion of the creative, technical, educational and emotional skills needed for success in the 21st century. This will be achieved through a programme of targeted learning opportunities that enable access and progression, particularly for underserved groups. Culture Mile Learning is responding to recent research which highlights that employers are reporting that it is increasingly difficult to find people with the fusion of creative and technological skills that they need to stay innovative.

Culture Mile Network
Over the coming months Culture Mile will develop an extensive network of organisations in and around the area which will play a critical role in realising the ambitions of Culture Mile, alongside the five core partners. These organisations represent the continuing and changing face of the City of London and share the commitment to help transform the area. It is announced today that the ABRSM, Beaumont UK, Charterhouse, City Music Foundation, City University, Grange Hotels, Institute of Ideas, Land Sec, One Square Mile, Royal Shakespeare Company, St Giles’ Cripplegate and City Churches and the University of Liverpool in London have agreed to join the network at the beginning of its journey and the group will continue to grow over the coming months. More details will be announced about Culture Mile’s network later in the year.
Culture Mile is the north-west corner of the Square Mile and covers 45 hectares/c.110 acres which is over 15% of the total area of the Square Mile. It has a blend of ancient and modern with Roman walls, mediaeval churches and livery halls close to new Crossrail stations, modern apartment blocks and a steady pipeline of cutting edge office developments and is what makes Culture Mile unique. There is a growing community of city workers, residents, students, cultural and creative industry workers and visitors. From 2018 extensive new office spaces across Culture Mile will see an extra 15,000 city workers by 2023 including companies such as Schroders PLC. The St Bart’s, Barbican and Golden Lane Estates provide around 3,500 apartments whilst new hotels, bars and restaurants are planned across the area. Culture Mile is one of the greenest parts of the City.
The City is the ancient heart of London, drawing millions of visitors with its unique combination of authenticity, heritage and innovation. It is one of Europe’s densest commercial areas with 17,980 businesses and 8.7 million square metres of office space, but there are also over 200 gardens, churchyards, parks and piazzas scattered throughout the Square Mile. Culture Mile will be one corner of the City’s thriving environment with St Paul’s Cathedral, Guildhall, Tower Bridge, the financial district, Tech City and the River Thames all within a short walking distance. Culture Mile aims to connect with the wider City, and to create a vibrant creative community.


© 1999 - 2018 Limited. All Rights Reserved