City of London debate throws spotlight on technology during pandemic 


Experts from the Royal Shakespeare Company, TikTok, and a leading virtual reality art company will be among those discussing how technology has democratised culture and sustained society during the pandemic at a ‘cultural conversation’ next week. 

The City of London Corporation, the governing body of the Square Mile, and the Genesis Foundation, which champions the work of young actors, directors, playwrights and musicians, are co-hosting a series of free ‘Cultural Conversations’ that bring together major figures from London’s arts and cultural scene. 

‘Culture, Technology and Innovation’ is the fourth discussion in the series and will take place online via Vimeo on 24 May from 5pm – 6:30pm and can be booked at 

Hosted virtually by Lord Mayor of the City of London, William Russell, at The Mansion House and chaired by London-based culture writer for The New York Times, Farah Nayeri, the panel includes: 

  • Artistic Director, Javaad Alipoor Company, Javaad Alipoor
  • Artistic Director, Acute Art, Daniel Birnbaum
  • Director Digital Development, Royal Shakespeare Company, Sarah Ellis
  • Strategic Projects, Google, Suhair Khan
  • General Manager UK & EU, TikTok, Rich Waterworth

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Among the topics under discussion, the informal conversation is expected to examine a wide range of issues, including: 

  • How many new people are involved in culture who weren’t able to access it before, and how has this changed the cultural landscape and the output?
  • To what extent has technology democratised the arts and access to the arts?
  • Why there can no leadership without technology leadership
  • How technology has sustained us through the pandemic and continues to redefine how we work, live, and interact
  • What is the responsibility of those that make art to not just reach new audiences, but also to engage, effect, and sustain change?

The Lord Mayor said: “The COVID pandemic has seen many people – not least, those of us who are enthusiastic consumers of art and culture – relying heavily on technology, not just to communicate, but also to keep ourselves informed and entertained. 

“This fourth cultural conversation brings together a hugely impressive panel of guests, who will generate a lively and thought-provoking discussion with the online audience.” 

Founder and Chairman of the Genesis Foundation, John Studzinski CBE, said: “We are pleased to continue our support into 2021 for the Lord Mayor’s Cultural Conversations. Mentoring, networks, and relationships reflect the work that we do, and conversation lies at the heart of that. 

“The forthcoming discussion focuses on culture, technology, and innovation, and we hope that it will spark new relationships, ideas, and projects. Conversation and culture energize each other.” 

The event forms part of Lord Mayor William Russell’s mayoral theme – ‘Global UK – Trade, Innovation & Culture’, which he is promoting at home and during virtual overseas visits during his mayoralty, and follows the recent publication of the Fuelling Creative Renewal report by the Culture and Commerce Taskforce, which he convened and chaired.

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