Culture Mile announces ‘Imagine’ programme


Culture Mile – the City of London’s cultural district stretching from Farringdon to Moorgate – has announced Imagine, a season of programmes, events and activities, supporting residents, visitors, school children, businesses and workers to take an active role in the area’s long-term vision as a vibrant and welcoming destination for generations to come.

Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee, Wendy Hyde. said: “The global pandemic has meant many of us have felt our worlds shrink. For some, this is not a new reality, for others it’s a stark change. For all of us, our lives feel more local than ever.

“The new normal has prompted Culture Mile to deepen its interaction with the surrounding area, forge new relationships and reframe how a major place-based cultural initiative of this kind can and should support those in its immediate vicinity. Over the next six months, Culture Mile will collaborate closely with and use creativity in support of our local communities.”

The Imagine Season includes a range of initiatives that can take place at home, throughout the community, in the streets and across businesses.

At Home

Culture Mile continues its successful Play Packs series with a special festive edition to inspire the whole family to get creative at home over the Christmas holidays. Culture Mile will also be producing Imagine Packs aimed at isolated older adults to tell their stories and to stay connected this winter.

This summer, Culture Mile created monthly Play Packs for London’s most disadvantaged families, distributing over 9,500 packs across the summer, through foodbanks, schools, community centres, churches and  charities, providing creative activities, ’playful prompts’ and art materials to families with little or no online access or play resources.

Brookfield Properties and Culture Mile have also co-commissioned a digital series of films inspired by place, which will be released later in the year. The films will be directed by emerging filmmakers and feature LSO musicians, marking the latest development in Brookfield Properties and Culture Mile’s long-standing collaboration.

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Radio local participant. Photo by Odera Okoye

In the Community

Applications are open until Monday 26 October for Culture Mile’s Imagine Fund. A panel of local decision-makers will help Culture Mile select ten members of the community to receive micro-grants of £500 to develop their ideas for the area, whether creative, cultural or community-based. The fund is open to all and any ideas – creative workshops, arts projects, workspace, local radio, or anything that that communities local to Culture Mile would like to spend some time exploring.

In 2021, some of the successful Imagine Fund projects will be selected for further development, joining the Imagine Commissions – a series of grassroots projects, nominated by Culture Mile’s core partners (Barbican Centre, Museum of London, London Symphony Orchestra and Guildhall School of Music & Drama) spotlighting the work of less visible neighbouring communities.

These include artist Kiran Chahal working with local families to create an outdoor play resource in TImbuktu Adventure Playground, with Culture Mile, the Museum of London and Islington Play Association; and  musical ensemble Breakfast Club quartet partnering with charity Women for Refugee Women to create music that explores unique identity and experience.  Through a series of online workshops, a group of 12 women will explore poetry, song, movement and storytelling to create a new piece of work. The commissions will also support Guildhall School in expanding their Music Bank project, in which musicians call older people connected to local charity AgeUK to perform pieces of music for them over the phone.

Culture Mile will bring together three artists working at the forefront of cultural change – the Otherwise Advisors – to re-imagine the future of Culture Mile, offering new perspectives, new narratives and new ways to see things as they could be otherwise.

In schools, Culture Mile Learning has curated a series of vibrantly designed, teacher-focused prompts to inspire new methods of teaching a wide-range of subjects at all key stages. The team has also developed a series of short films, exploring Black British history through objects within the London Metropolitan Archives, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Guildhall Art Gallery and Museum of London.

In the Streets

Over the next few months, dynamic and colourful branded interventions will pop up throughout Culture Mile, in a collaboration with environmental graphic designer Richard Wolfstrome, helping visitors, residents and workers enjoy and explore the district. At Moor Lane, a passionate group of Heron Tower and Barbican Estate residents have worked with urban designers Wayward to create a temporary green space in the heart of the City. The Moor Lane Community Garden is inspired by the iconic architecture of the Barbican and London Wall, and responds to the area’s design and history, while exploring new and exciting ways to green our streets.

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The Moor Lane Community Garden. Photo by Jessica Bernard.

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Across Businesses

Culture Mile is strengthening its commitment to the creative sector and SMEs within the area through the development of a bespoke suite of training and skills-building opportunities as well as bringing together the commercial and cultural sectors to work together for mutual benefit.

Culture Mile’s inaugural Fusion Prize, a £50,000 innovation prize delivered in partnership with Foundation for Future London at East Bank, aims to equip young Londoners with the skills they need to meet the demands of today’s employers.  With the winner announced on 29 October, the Prize aims to use creativity to upskill future generations to succeed in the 21st century and to develop ‘fusion skills’ that are essential for the modern workplace – a mix of communication, thinking, organisational and creative skills.

A new Culture & Commerce Taskforce has been set up by the Lord Mayor, the City of London Corporation and Culture Mile to tackle the ‘cultural catastrophe’ caused by COVID-19 and faced by the creative sector across London. Senior leaders from a range of sectors, including financial and professional services, tech and culture will meet over the next three months to develop new ways in which London’s cultural and commercial sectors can work together to support creative businesses  and maintain London’s competitive advantage as a global business hub.

Culture Mile’s Imagination Exchange will grow its connections with local artists and freelancers through opportunities, including freelance meet ups and complimentary working space within the Barbican Centre.

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