The statues, institutional names and other memorials that have been under a media spotlight in recent weeks are the art and charity washing effluent of former times. It is right and proper that they should be removed from public spaces and put in storage. It is also worth noting that many of the slave trader memorials featured in recent news stories are for men who were in their time top City of London council officials including William Beckford and Robert Geffrye who were lord mayors, and John Cass who was a sheriff. One of the City’s current artwashing projects is the so-called Culture Mile. This consists both of grandiose projects such as a ridiculously expensive Centre For Music, and lesser ‘pop up’ programmes including last month’s Radio Local, which functioned to compromise those who involved themselves in it by drawing them into the City’s artwashing orbit and mixing together self-organised community initiatives such as a local food bank with the obnoxious animal cruelty operation Club Gascon (which masquerades as a restaurant and specialises in foie gras torture dishes).Read more "Culture Mile Is Now Artwashing Animal Cruelty Alongside Colonial & Neo-Colonial Crimes"
When discussing English slave trading the Royal Africa Company and the East India Company are key reference points and both have deep roots in the City of London. Many of the individuals implicated in the black holocaust through their involvement in these two slave trading entities also played key roles in local government in the City of London including as lord mayors, sheriffs and members of livery companies. Some of these slave traders are still memorialised in the City of London. Memorials tend to erase the complexities of history through simple celebration, which is why their removal from public spaces generally enhances historical understanding. That said, the undemocratic and still in many ways feudal local government machinery of the City of London is also in its contemporary form a product of the slave trade and it is more important that this is dismantled than that statues are removed and streets get renamed. It would, however, be ideal if both the governance of the City was democratically reformed and its problematic memorials removed.Read more "The City of London & The Slave Trade Part 1"
Moving wholesale markets to the edge of the city is sensible and is to be welcomed, as is the use of some of the freed up land for housing; as long as this doesn’t turn out to be luxury ghost homes for investors. That said, the City has already made it clear it wants to use Smithfield and the site of the Museum of London (if it is vacated) for vanity Culture Mile projects rather than housing. We don’t want a dead culture pitched to the victims of an unsustainable tourist industry. None of the exciting new cultural developments – such as grime – that have emerged from London in recent decades were funded by artwashing out-of-touch ‘patrons’ such as the City of London. Rather they grew from the very communities the Culture Mile will effectively exclude. Building council flats to sustain social diversity would do a lot more for culture in London than the Culture Mile will ever achieve.Read more "City Of London’s Culture Mile & Submission Of Markets Plan"
The utter banality and blandness of the City of London’s corporate Culture Mile project continues with Around The Corner a series of 12 ‘installations’ (11 words & a question mark) between Millennium Bridge and Barbican Station that function as metaphorical piles of poo dropped into this part of the City from a great height. These atomised words spread out along a few streets make up the sentence: “What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?” pointlessly lifted from Virginia Woolf’s 1922 novel Jacob’s Room.Read more "Culture Mile Vanity Project Drives City Residents Around The Bend"
Over the past few weeks the Talk Culture Mile series of events in the City has demonstrated the exclusionary nature of this project, with the aim being to bring ‘together organisations from across all sectors’ while not inviting the main stakeholders, local residents. So while the Improving Social Mobility Through Creative Skills talk was held at Golden Lane Community Centre on 4 July 2019, no one involved troubled themselves to notify tenants on the council estate that houses the venue of this event, since it seems the idea is to leave the organisation of social mobility to professionals – who we assume are mostly interested in preserving their own privileges by holding back the working class. The fact this talk was intended for people unfamiliar with the area rather than local residents was underlined by the leaflet promoting it carrying the following information after the venue’s address: “The community centre is opposite Great Arthur House, EC1Y 0RD”. Local people know where the community centre is.Read more "City of London Attempts To Flatten All Opposition To Culture Mile Gentrification and Social Exclusion"
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?Read more "Stuff The City of London’s Centre For Music! If We Need A New Classical Concert Hall Build It In Merton!"
The Crossrail deal struck between the Corporation of London when it saw headed by ‘Sir’ Michael Snyder and the 2007 Labour government highlights the blurring between the corporation’s two roles, that of a local authority with public funds and a lobbying body with even larger private funds. An internal corporation document presented to councillors in October 2007 stated that, “there would be a number of pre-conditions to be satisfied before funding was released”. One of these was “a net real terms improvement in government funding of the City Corporation”. The corporation wanted the government to reinstate a fund known as the “City Offset” “The City Offset was re-instated… in 2007 following representations from the City of London Corporation,” said a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government… This means the corporation could end up recouping all of the money it is contributing to Crossrail. As the internal corporation document states, if the extra government funding to the corporation continued for fifteen years, “the eventual adverse impact on our asset base would be £15m or less”. Given that Crossrail inflates the value of lands owned by the corporation adjacent to it and the extra funding could continue for more than 15 years, the City potentially stood to make a great deal of money from this deal.Read more "‘Sir’ Michael Snyder, The City of London & Crossrail"
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.Read more "Cripplegate Is Not Disneyland! Stop Culture Mile Overtourism!"
Rather than exposing the City of London as the UK’s last rotten borough and exploring the area’s often disreputable history – the racist tropes cooked up by Protestant bigots in Grub Street, the violence and extra-legal activity around the Shrieval Election of 1682, or the notorious bawdy houses of Cripplegate etc. etc. – the Culture Mile has to date consisted of the super-bland artwashing. Instead of the proposed Centre of Music being built on the current Museum of London site, we’d rather see housing for refugees. Likewise there is already a huge daily footfall of visitors in the Culture Mile area and seeking to increase this will make life worse for its residents. Tourists aren’t wanted and nor are retail outlets selling overpriced goods to sightseers either.Read more "Culture Mile: Tourists Go Home – Refugees Welcome!"
We have previously addressed the opacity of a couple of council register of interest entries. Here we will deal with the same issue as regards Giles Shilson, a councillor for Bread Street ward. Despite the fact that he would appear to be a high flying freemason, Shilson failed to make an appearance in a recent Barbican Talk discussion that among other things attempted to work out the percentage of councilors who are masons – we suspect the figure mooted there is an underestimation. That Shilson is a freemason was not apparent to the City residents involved in this discussion because the way this is indicated on his register of interests is not transparent to many of those who do not belong to The Brotherhood, and will be seen by some as disingenuous.Read more "Giles Shilson, Freemasonry & Democratic Transparency at the City of London Council"