Culture Mile kicks off with Beech St light show

Beech Street was transformed with a groundbreaking sound and light installation last year

Pedestrians usually try to steer clear of Beech Street but a new light and sound installation will aim to give the pollution-choked tunnel a new lease on life.

Tunnel Visions: Array is a free art installation that will transform the tunnel into an audio-visual performance space on 17 and 18 March, one of the first in a series of events planned to kick off the City’s Culture Mile strategy.

The performance was created by Tony Award-winning artists 59 Productions and features music by Finnish composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, one of the featured composers in the Barbican’s 2017/18 season.

It will be a key drawcard of  Barbican OpenFest, a festival of art, music, dance, workshops, markets, tours and talks designed to encourage people to explore the Barbican and its surrounding streets.

The Culture Mile is a bid by the City of London Corporation, Barbican Centre, Museum of London, LSO St Luke’s and Guildhall School of Music & Drama to transform the stretch between Farringdon Station and Beech Street into a bustling cultural hub over the next 10 to 15 years.

One of the strategy’s main aims was to improve Beech Street tunnel by reducing traffic to westbound lanes only, while providing pedestrians with more walking space and livening up the area with art installations.

news london
Beech Street tunnel has been named among London’s worst streets.

“This temporary transformation of Beech Street – the backbone of Culture Mile – is an important milestone in our plans to create a vibrant cultural area in the north-west corner of the City,” said Corporation policy chief Catherine McGuinness.

“Through imaginative Culture Mile collaborations and top-class outdoor programming like Array, we will redefine the Square Mile so that it becomes known as much for being a world-class cultural destination as for its position as a leading financial centre.”

Barbican managing director Nicholas Kenyon said the event would be “a great demonstration of our desire to enliven the area with outdoor programming, be more family friendly and create a leading cultural and creative destination.”

“There will be activities happening across the weekend from Culture Mile’s core partners and the Culture Mile Network with something for everyone to enjoy.”

There will be a 30-minute performance of Tunnel Visions: Array every hour across the weekend from 3 to 9.30pm on Saturday 17 March and 12-9.30pm on Sunday 18 March. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance on the Barbican’s website.