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Welcome to Culture Mile

Photo of Station to Station smoke installation on the Barbican Lakeside
20 Jul 2017
3 min read

Our Managing Director Sir Nicholas Kenyon introduces a new initiative in the north-west of the City, Culture Mile.

‘For more than 35 years, the Barbican has been a beacon of adventurous culture in the City, offering an ever wider range of world-class arts and learning to an ever more diverse audience in London and beyond. Living up to our vision of ‘arts without boundaries’, we have expanded our activities and reached a whole new generation of audiences.

Now is the time to draw all this history, innovation and achievement together

We have always been part of the thriving life of an area of London that is home to the Museum of London, the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and London Symphony Orchestra St Luke’s, as well as a unique range of heritage sites and buildings from the Roman Wall and Fort, through medieval churches and livery halls to distinguished contemporary buildings by leading architects.

Now is the time to draw all this history, innovation and achievement together in a major initiative, as the arts, heritage and culture organisations in the northwest of the City – from Farringdon to Moorgate – come together to launch Culture Mile: a major destination for the culture of today in the heart of London’s financial district.

We are an area of the City where creativity matters and flourishes

Our part of the City is changing radically. The arrival of Crossrail across the north of the City in 2018-2019 will transform the area with new transport links to both East and West. There will be new Elizabeth Line stations at Farringdon and Moorgate/ Liverpool Street, on both sides of the Barbican, which together with the north-south Thameslink lines at the new Farringdon interchange will provide unrivalled access to London’s airports and transport hubs. This is a huge benefit to Barbican residents, visitors and cultural enthusiasts alike, and we need to be ready for increased numbers and welcoming accessibility.

We are an area of the City where creativity matters and flourishes. There are many partnerships that already operate across the institutions, the Guildhall School with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), the Museum with the Barbican, but now we will work in a much more co-ordinated way both to present our activities to audiences, and to animate the spaces in between our buildings and create a sense of welcome. Building on the extraordinary cultural programmes already available across the City, we will work together to create learning destination offering people of all ages access to a huge range of different inspiring experiences and opportunities.

The City of London Corporation, in boldly leading this development, recognizes the need to improve the public realm, our much-debated wayfinding and signage, and the look and feel of the area. The covered roadway of Beech Street is an obvious target for improvement, and there will be experimental interventions of pop-up art and installations to test the ground for the future enhancements of the streets, in line with City targets to improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

This is just the beginning of the story. With the exciting major development of the new Museum of London in West Smithfield, and the ambitious vision to create a new Centre for Music providing access for all on the present site of the Museum, we have the potential to work with stakeholders and partners to redefine the role of the City for future generations. We hope you will work with us as we set out on this exciting journey.’

Nicholas Kenyon is Managing Director of the Barbican Centre and a member of the City of London Corporation’s Cultural Hub Working Party.

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