Cultural tourism post-Brexit
Post Brexit, how will Britain create a new tourism offer and will our music scene draw visitors as it does currently? These and other questions about creating go-to cultural destinations were debated at our forum held at Goldsmiths' Hall, City of London.
Karine Lepeuple of the Goldsmiths' Centre, whose previous roles include Head of Product at Eurostar and Commercial Director of the Old Royal Naval College (Greenwich), was asked about the tourist prospects for Britain post-Brexit. She commented that there was a focus during the 2012 Olympics on making British people appear more welcoming, and this was achieved according to post-event research. Karine added: 'I think the UK government's recent campaign on 'Great Britain' which highlighted culture, shopping and heritage was well researched and got under the skin of why people visit Britain. But it's painful to see creativity being pushed out of Britain now. I think the Mayor of London's campaign and HSBC's advertising on London and open-ness are hitting the right spots but there is a long way to go to overcome the damage being done by Brexit to Brand Britain.'
'Gig venues are disappearing at an alarming rate' added Arup's Principal, Arts and Entertainment, Tateo Nakajima. 'London has needed a new concert hall for a long time - in fact it really needs a series from symphonic through to gig venues - and these are disappearing. People come to London in their droves for music, so these losses are worrying. In a very digital world there is a great need for live music venues with good acoustics.
In developing cultural hubs Tateo advised that grass-roots community input is vital - if identity is to be properly reflected and developed, rather than imposed by an external master-plan. Montreal has done this well recently by setting a community management organisation first to discuss plans with all the stake-holders, and bringing in designers later. Please listen to Tateo (above) talking about the 'Cultural Mile' in the City of London, and why fostering an ecosystem for artists and musicians alongside grand projects may define urban success or failure.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has recently published his cultural infrastructure plan and has also warned that London's number of domestic visitors is waning. So what will attract the crowds - is it high culture or retail with a dash of well-chosen entertainment on the side?
At Olympia in West London Deutsche Finance and Yoo Capital's design team - including SPPARC and Heatherwick Studio - are re-inventing the Victorian and Edwardian era's 'people's palace' for the next century, with a focus on new entertainment venues, hotels, retail and restaurants to complement the existing exhibition spaces.
SPPARC's Olympia Project Architect, Lucy Holmes explained: 'the current Olympia is a fortress with very limited space available to those without an exhibition halls ticket. The roads around the site are congested by service traffic, so we are going to locate a service and delivery hub below ground and free up space for visitors on foot. We will create a new public realm 'sky walk' level with roof top gardens, retail and restaurants. A 1500 seat theatre, and a 1,000 seat performing arts venue as well as two hotels - from citizenM and Hyatt - will be added. There is also an outline application for affordable office space and retail on Olympia Way so the public realm is properly activated.'
So could this be the recipe for success in the future, in creating a sustainable entertainment venue that appeals to all ages with variety of entertainment and retail? Future Cities Forum will be watching this developing brief.