Central London arts festival ‘Inside Out’ aims to kickstart economy


A socially-distant, open-air arts festival will soon be held in locations throughout the West End, in a further bid to kick start central London’s economy.

In a year when festivals of all varieties have been cancelled en masse, ‘Inside Out Festival’ will feature performances, outdoor exhibitions and installations from the capital’s leading arts institutions.

Run by Westminster Council, Inside Out will be held between October 1-4.

It will include:

  • A selection of open-air performances from West End musicals, the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, and the Royal Philharmonic Brass Ensemble
  • An open-air gallery on the National Gallery’s North Terrace on Trafalgar Square
  • The first ever Mayfair Sculpture Trail launched by Mayfair Art Weekend in partnership with local galleries
  • Light projections in celebration of new life, nature, and optimism onto Marble Arch by artist Claire Luxton
  • Light projections in Piccadilly Circus and Victoria by MTArt Agency Artists Ben Cullen Williams and Lauren Baker
  • The Photographers’ Gallery hosting a free, open-air portrait studio, selfie booths and an exhibition of work produced by young people during lockdown

Alex Beard, chief executive of the Royal Opera House, said: “I am absolutely delighted that artists and musicians of the Royal Opera House are joining the Inside Out project.

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“It is vital for the West End, for theatres across London and for everyone who engages with the arts in any capacity that we get back to live performances, for live audiences, as soon as possible.”

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery, said: “By bringing a series of life-size replicas onto the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square, all visitors to the area can enjoy a taste of the treasures we have inside the National Gallery.”

The announcement comes amid ongoing concern for the West End’s economy, which is powered by the custom of tourists and officer workers who have been visiting in much fewer numbers since the pandemic began.

At a Full Council meeting on 16 September, Cities of London and Westminster MP Nickie Aiken said retailers were facing a 46% drop in income, and that takeup of new office space was down 57% since last year.

Westminster Council leader Rachael Robathan said: “We’ve all missed the buzz of the West End’s theatres, opera houses and galleries, and while some are starting to reopen, we’re doing everything we can to bring more fantastic art outdoors where people can enjoy it safely.

“We’re delighted to be working with our cultural partners to give people a chance to sample the magic of stunning theatre, music and art on our beautiful streets and squares. We hope this is the precursor to a full re-opening of the West End when we are sure it is safe to do so.”

Tickets are due to go on sale next week for certain events.

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