Stuff The City of London’s Centre For Music! If We Need A New Classical Concert Hall Build It In Merton!

A few weeks after the mid-January release of plans for Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s dog’s dinner of a Centre For Music building on the site of the current Museum of London, comes news of an ambitious project to build a new classical music venue in Wimbledon (part of the Borough of Merton) in south-west London. Since there is already a concert hall in The Barbican Arts Centre, and another a few minutes away in the form of LSO St Luke’s on Old Street, it is clearly pointless building yet another classical music hangout within easy walking distance of these two existing auditoriums. What many local people want is more social housing, so why not use the Museum of London site to deliver the council flats the City of London has promised but so far failed to build?

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The Crossrail Art Foundation & City of London Artwashing

We call on all those involved in the culture industry and more specifically those commissioned by or involved in commissioning for The Crossrail Art Foundation to boycott this organisation and any work it manages to install on the ‘Elizabeth Line’. Beneficiaries of these commissions and commissioning agencies currently include Spencer Finch, Darren Almond, Richard Wright, Douglas Gordon, Simon Periton, Yayoi Kusama, Conrad Shawcross, Michal Rovner, Chantal Joffe, FutureCity, Lisson Gallery, White Cube, Sadie Coles HQ, Victoria Miro, Whitechapel Gallery and PACE. To what extent these individuals and art organisations were aware of the nefarious activities of the City of London when they involved themselves with the Crossrail Art Foundation is unclear, but once they’re alerted to what’s going on unless they actively support the City of London’s anti-democratic agenda we would expect them to drop this connection.

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Cripplegate Is Not Disneyland! Stop Culture Mile Overtourism!

Overtourism occurs when there are too many visitors to a particular destination. “Too many” is subjective but it can be defined in different destinations by key stakeholders; and in the case of residential areas such as Cripplegate it is the needs of local residents that should be prioritised. When rent rises push out local retailers to make room for bars, restaurants and shops selling luxury goods and trinkets to tourists, that is overtourism. When you can’t get around because walkways are jammed with sightseers and visitors attending middle-brow ‘art’ events, that is overtourism. When tourists cannot view landmarks or transient cultural manifestations because of the crowds, when fragile ensembles of listed buildings become degraded, when street art is being commissioned by the local authority and covered with Perspex to protect it, when there are huge signs installed on walls to inform passersby about public art, when accommodation for key workers is replaced by luxury apartments aimed at property investors who’ll leave them empty and bank on a overheated housing market to reap them a profit – these are all signs of overtourism, as well as gentrification and social cleansing. And these are all things currently happening in Cripplegate and Aldersgate and which the City of London’s Culture Mile strategy is designed to exacerbate.

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Grubstreet Author: Corporate Hospitality & Poverty Chic

The history of Grub Street is far more complex than the cartoon version deployed by those using despicable poverty chic to brand their corporate hospitality operations at the Grubstreet Author. There is still much poverty in the extensive social housing immediately to the north of The Grubstreet Author, and a considerable number of people who are Irish or of Irish descent in the immediate area. The anti-Irish hate spewed out by Grub Street is something The Brewery should show more sensitivity towards. We suggest it renames its new venture after one of the victims of Bloody Sunday, when 14 unarmed civilians were murdered in cold blood by British soldiers on 30 January 1972 – and as many again were shot but survived. Grub Street racism helped fuel and justify endless British massacres in Ireland, including those overseen by Oliver Cromwell. It should go without saying we’d also like to see the City of London owned Cromwell Tower – just off Chiswell Street – renamed Devlin Tower, in honour of the politician and Irish civil right activist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey.

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Tunnel Visions: Another Culture Mile Flop!

The money the City of London burns on artwashing itself via the Culture Mile and other projects is dwarfed by the sums it lavishes on propaganda promoting the interests of the finance industry, tax havens and wealth inequality. And even the crumbs thrown at the arts and ‘charity’ by the City don’t really benefit anyone outside a wealthy elite; such spending is instrumental and designed to promote corporate greed as a public good. The Culture Mile isn’t much of a smokescreen for this tunnel vision.

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Where Do Zupagrafika Stand On Brutal Capitalism Destroying London Communities?

With Balfron Tower’s working class community decanted to be replaced by rich ghost home investors, and similar things happening at other sites celebrated by Zupagrafika, just where do this design studio stand on such matters? Brutal London can all too easily be perceived as artwashing of this process. Zupagrafika donating a percentage of the profits from the project to campaigns fighting against the displacement of the working class communities connected to these buildings would do a lot to stop Brutal London being seen by all sides in this battle as an uncritical celebration of gentrification and social cleansing.

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Boycott City of London Artwashing

The ‘culture’ corporate funders like the City of London back impoverishes us and the world. Rather than understanding culture as a living and evolving part of our community, the City and its friends want to impose their vapid tastes on us. The aim is to displace living cultures with a dead one based on consumption, where the bottom line is coldly calculated in cash. For us what must always come first are the social relations that create cultures; in stark contrast the ‘City of Culture’ model is based on the commodification and reification of human activity. City of London artwashing is both an attempt to throw a cloak of respectability over the money-grabbing activities of the rich, and a continuation of these activities by transforming what were truly human activities and relations into economic calculations in which objects and balance sheets are valued over what really matters – the people!

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