Culture Mile: Tourists Go Home – Refugees Welcome!

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.

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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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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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If The Barbican’s Banksy Graffiti Peeved You, Then You’ll Hate The Culture Mile!

Reclaim EC1 has explained in previous posts why the Culture Mile is a bad news. What we haven’t done is focus on how once it’s in operation its going to be hated by those who live in The Barbican. However its obvious that the Cultural Mile is intended to attract an unsustainable number of tourists into the north west corner of the City, and Barbican residents are going to bear the brunt of this, with their lives disrupted by noise alongside the ongoing destruction of their estate. The latter will mostly just be the result of an expanded footfall the Barbican architects never envisaged, although there will no doubt be an increase in the low levels of ‘anti-social behaviour’ residents are already complaining about (in relation to the Banksy graffiti the City used to promote its Jean-Michel Basquiat exhbition at the Barbican art gallery)…

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City Planning ‘Tsar’ Annie Hampson Gets An OBE, Those She Allegedly ‘Serves’ Get The Turd!

Annie Hampson, the City of London council’s chief planning officer and development director was the recipient of an OBE for ‘services to planning in London’ in the New Year’s Honours list. Presumably these services include helping the City foist Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen AKA The Turd on local residents in Cripplegate, a development that will block sunlight from schools, homes and a local park; and which replaces 110 social housing units for key workers with a block of luxury flats that contains no social or affordable housing whatsoever. For this and other exercises in screwing over ordinary people in both the City and Islington – think of the Culture Mile too – we’ve no doubt the powers that be believe Hampson really deserves this ‘honour’.

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Culture Mile: A Cynical Exercise in Marginalisation & Social Exclusion

Before I sat down to write this piece, I came across a photograph on social media posted yesterday and captioned: “Back of Liverpool Street Station – the sterile hell of a corporate winter wonderland.” The area shown in this smartphone snap is in the City of London and what was said about it really chimed with my feelings over not just the Culture Mile but also most City Public Realm projects in recent years. The council’s Department of the Built Environment is clearly in need of reform just as much as the political body that controls it. We really do need to take back the city.

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Another Culture Mile Branding Fail!

The City of London has plenty of money and if it wants to waste it on an overly flash middlebrow music venue in order to provide further opportunities for corporate junkets, so be it. But the local council should also face the fact their mood muzak is of little or no interest to many local residents. If they want to buy us off why don’t they match the money they intend to spend on Sir Baby Rattle’s pet project on new social housing within City of London boundaries? Building council flats would provide far greater benefit for the area than the City’s LSO folly; and it ought to be obvious Culture Mile ‘pop ups’ are too cheap and cheesy to act as bribes.

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Banksy Murals & Golden Lane Ghost Homes

We have absolutely no problem with Banksy’s PR work on Basquiat’s behalf – because we like the artist he’s paying tribute to! Likewise Banksy was almost certainly unaware of how Taylor Wimpey – with help from the least democratic council in the UK – are planning to screw over local people with their Denizen development blocking up to 70% of light from our local flats, schools and park; but nonetheless if he’s serious about being a ‘street artist’ then Banksy should take a stand against this project since he’s installed his new murals right next to its proposed site. Less urgently we’d also like Banksy clarify his position on the Culture Mile, yet another cynical City of London project we oppose.

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The Culture Mile is a branding disaster, give us a democratic kilometre!

If the Culture Mile is supposed to attract international visitors to the City of London as a beacon of the arts, it’s clearly stupid to use imperial rather than metric measurements for this branded name. While one can see that the bureaucrats who chose this designation were trying to invoke the area’s half-forgotten nickname of The Square Mile, such fusty terminology won’t help them ‘half-inch’ renown as a major European cultural destination from elsewhere. Imperial measurements aren’t a part of forward-looking international arts zones, metric ones are!

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Culture Mile: A Nightmare On Beech Street

If the City of London wishes to become a ‘world-class’ cultural destination then clearly it needs to dump its current arts policies that relentlessly pursue the middle-brow, apparently with the aim of facilitating corporate junkets. More of a gritty urban vibe is required, alongside cultural institutions that actively do away with the Puritanism that has characterised the City establishment for hundreds of years. The last thing needed is a privately educated knob like “Sir’ Simon Rattle promoting light orchestral garbage in a specially built and extortionately expensive ‘Centre for Music’ AKA a concert hall. The best way to vibe up the neighbourhood is the provision of a great deal more social housing, so that there is an even bigger working class population. Not that it isn’t substantial already on both the Golden Lane Estate within the City of London, and in the extensive Peabody Trust social housing that lies just over the borough boundary with Islington.

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