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The British Library joins Future Cities Forum's 'Creative Cities' this May

Image above: Jamie Andrews, courtesy of The British Library

Future Cities Forum is delighted that The British Library's Director of Public Engagement, Jamie Andrews, will be contributing to 'Creative Cities' next month at the BFI.

Jamie will be updating the forum on the British Library's redevelopment of Temple Works in Leeds, 'Beyond the Baseline' - its exhibition charting Black music in Britain, and promising to be the first of its kind in the world - as well as plans to involve the local London community in its new hub building at King's Cross.

He spoke at our forum in Leeds in May 2022 on the plans to redevelop a former 19th century mill into a new cultural space in Leeds. The British Library feels it has outgrown its northern collections and storage campus in Boston Spa in Leeds and wants to expand its operations to Temple Works where it can invite more visitors. Jamie said at our Leeds forum:

'We have been in Leeds since The British Library was created in the 1970s and our archive in Boston Spa has been massively important to us. The vast majority of it is stored here and will be forever in the city of Leeds. Over 100 million objects are located (at the Boston Spa site) in a former munitions factory but it is not a site that we can invite the maximum number of people to. At Temple Works we can have the digital and the human and start planning for the next 50 years. Only a public sector organisation could do this and guarantee stability.

In London, Beyond the Bassline at the British Library, will be the first major exhibition of its kind anywhere in the world, and curators say it is about more than music:

'It’s about the places where these sounds were born: the clubs, the carnivals, the stages, the kerbside auditoriums. It is the voice of community, resistance, culture and joy. It is a celebration of the trailblazers and innovators that brought new music to the UK, and the layered Black experiences that have birthed a thriving musical culture and history.

'Beyond the Bassline is a map through Black music in Britain.  Transporting experiences give way to absorbing soundscapes, artworks and films produced by artists and collectives across the UK. Archival footage leads into spectacular costumes, interactive displays, and of course, music. And at the conclusion of the exhibition, Touching Bass, a South London-based musical movement and curatorial platform, present a new multi-screen film installation.

'Dive into letters from 18th-century composer Ignatius Sancho, glittering props and outfits of glamorous performers, records from the likes of Fela Kuti and Shirley Bassey, nostalgic video archive of grime’s golden era captured on Risky Roadz DVD and the equipment that Jamal Edwards used to start SB.TV, the industry-defining YouTube channel dedicated to Black British Music. Here, alongside over 200 exhibits, they are woven into union as you journey through an ever-evolving and ever-expanding history.'

The British Library has also opened The Last Word community hub in its Piazza, which is the new base for our Community Engagement team. The aim is to meet Camden residents and host a range of activities with and for local people. The hub will also showcase changing displays of community projects for everyone to enjoy.


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