Culture Mile: breathing life into the City of London

Culture Mile London

It’s likely you’ve heard of Culture Mile before. Or, at the very least, you’ve experienced some of what their team does in the City of London. For Culture Mile is the City’s very own cultural district, stretching from Farringdon to Moorgate.

And it includes five founding partners. These include the City of London Corporation, the Barbican Centre, Guildhall School of Music & Drama (GSMD), London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and the Museum of London.

Their collective goal is to work with the local community to create a vibrant and creative area in the north-west corner of the Square Mile. They are breathing more life and culture back into the City.

And Culture Mile’s team does this through a huge range of initiatives.

Alongside animating the whole district with imaginative collaborations and events, delivering major enhancements to the streets, and improving wayfinding, Culture Mile also works with organisations from across the City to build a world-class hub of creativity, innovation and learning. This, in turn, delivers economic growth and social mobility in London.

Now that’s a bit of a mouthful. But it can all be broken down into the five key areas.

Creative Communities

Strengthening connections with and between neighbours and the heritage and culture on their doorstep. This includes Culture Mile’s popular Play Packs, creative packs for families that were distributed through foodbanks and community centres during lockdown.
They helped kids express their creativity, all the while learning about their local area. But community engagement didn’t end there.
They set up Family Play events and Play Streets across the area, as well as Imagine Packs and community events for isolated, older people.

Moreover, for 2022, Culture Mile is developing the Creative Citizens lab, which finds new ways for residents to create their own creative projects for their neighbourhoods.

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Play Packs in the Streets © Culture Mile/Odera Okoye

Creative Spaces

This covers developing and amplifying the spaces within Culture Mile, including developing the Smithfield Public Realm and the creative and cultural use of buildings.

Culture Mile’s team aim to give the area a visual identity. And they take this a step further by developing plans for meanwhile use space (repurposing empty office or retail space for creative uses).

This turns empty, unused spaces into creative hubs that feed back into the local community.

Creative Learning

Activities, projects and resources for schools and young people that draw on the combined expertise and experiences of 30 unique culture venues to develop the skills needed to support learning and social mobility.

It’s all delivered by Culture Mile Learning, which brings together organisations across the City and beyond including Keats House, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and Epping Forest, each with its own cultural learning offer. The focus is on the City of London, but their influence spans beyond this geographical area.

Programmes include a school Visits Fund, a creative curriculum for schools – most recently developing a memes project for students aged five to 18 to express their feelings through a digital art project.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Supporting and developing the City’s creative ecology, advocating for deepened collaboration between commerce and culture, establishing Culture Mile as a hub of creativity, enterprise and innovation that delivers economic growth and social mobility for London.

This includes initiatives like the Culture and Commerce Taskforce, led by the Lord Mayor – bringing together leaders from across sectors to work together. It covers skills and knowledge sharing programmes, supporting SMEs, freelancers and corporate businesses in the area.

It also supports the development of new creative collaborations between sectors. A fantastic example of this is the continued work that Culture Mile does with Brookfield Properties around London Wall Place, in partnership with Guildhall School of Music & Drama and London Symphony Orchestra.

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Moor Lane Community Garden © Culture Mile/Em Davis

The Business Partnership

Enabling Culture Mile to achieve its transition to a new commercial business model as a culture-led Business Improvement District in the City.

This will mean that Culture Mile can more effectively respond to and serve the needs of the local business community for many years to come.

Feature image: One of the young creatives responsible for Gala’s Garden in Holborn Viaduct, in partnership with Dominvs Group © Play Nice/Francis Augusto

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