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V&A to stage Bowie exhibition in 2025


Above: Striped body suit for Aladdin Sane tour, 1973 design by Kansai Yamamoto. Photo by Masayoshi Sukita - Copyright Sukita and The David Bowie Archive


Investment in London's new creative district at Stratford is continuing to grow. Future Cities Forum will be bringing together museum, film and television as well as university leaders at its March forum being held at the British Film Institute, to discuss development opportunities in creative districts in London and across the UK.


Hawk London, a new UK based company specialising in the film and television industry, has just secured over 10 thousand square feet in Studio 12 of the Broadcast Centre at Here East, the award winning innovation campus on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Teeside University has now opened its London campus, also at Here East, offering courses such as Computer Games and Animation, to train students with the skills for the 'workforce of tomorrow' and follows other academic institutions, such as UCL and Loughborough University, taking space.


The V&A Museum is building its new storehouse and museum within this creative tech hub district and has announced that it is planning to display a new collection of items spanning the career of the late music star David Bowie to the public in 2025, at the new David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts at its V&A East Storehouse in east London.


The museum said last week that it had acquired the archive of some 80,000 items of the rock legend for the nation and that fans, school pupils and researchers will be able to gain insight into the pioneering British singer-songwriter's creative process. The V&A said it secured the archive and could create the new centre thanks to the David Bowie Estate and a £10 million donation from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group.


The archive features Bowie's handwritten lyrics for songs like 'Fame' and 'Heroes', sketches, letters, costumes - including his Ziggy Stardust pieces - stage props, instruments as well as intimate writings and unrealised projects, many not seen before in public.


Gus Casely-Hayford, Director of V&A East, commented - during Future Cities Forum's 2021 Cultural Cities event:

'With a newly designed space which is vast - the scale of a football field - we will have a glorious new museum when built: There will be multiple floors where visitors can stand to look up and look out and 26,000 objects to explore. Those who are interested can look at best practice from designers around the world. There will be a newly designed state of the art exhibition space where the narratives from our creative communities can find space and present the reactions to the objects from the local community.


'We will draw in marginalised audiences and provide a digital interface which will bring the collections to life. Visitors will be able to record their impressions and leave something of themselves behind. We will create another layer of integration of objects - a space within itself - to seek out and explore the latest debates around the objects.


'There will be facilities for courses and for training. We have set up a connection with The Bartlett / UCL and The London College of Fashion for training and people will be able use this wider partnership to further their own professional opportunities, creating a new community of artists and by so doing, bring back into our own collections.'



Above: internal render view of the central collection hall in V&A East Storehouse, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro 2021


At Future Cities Forum's 'Creative Cities' March event at the British Film Institute in London, discussions will also take place around the direction that museums are taking to ensure visitor numbers grow post the pandemic lockdown. At its September 2022 forum hosted by the V&A in South Kensington, Dr Pip Simpson, Director of Design, Estate and Public Programme, said that visitor numbers had not quite reached the levels pre-Covid and the museum is lucky to have private donations that enable it to enhance its collections and drive visitor numbers:


'Sometimes funding comes from people who have a particular interest in an area or collection and want to give money to that, but we are constantly finding out through research what audiences want to see. We also want to retain an element of surprise, so people can stumble over an object and find new interest in that.


'With interactions and activities, it has been critical in the East of London and at the Young V&A to have the dialogue. There are questions about what needs to be retained and what needs to be new. We have run lots of workshops for children in the area, for instance model making, because they are our advocates going forward. Do we want more digital inter-activity? Sometimes a museum is a place people go to escape the digital world.'


Future Cities Forum's 'Creative Cities' event in March 2023 will discuss private investment in the growing film industry, including new developments of film and television campuses throughout the UK.


Planning for a new UK centre for high-end film and TV production has been submitted by a group of local entrepreneurs and arts industry professionals in Buckinghamshire at the former gravel pits near the town of Marlow.


Dido Property Limited - led by Robert Laycock who will be speaking at our March forum - wants to create 'the definitive UK centre for creative work that will attract the world's attention.' The team behind the property company has delivered betweeen them projects such as the London Olympics, King's Cross and CB1 Cambridge.


Robert manages the Ian Fleming Estate (James Bond and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and is currently producing an adaptation of the celebrated cult novel The Magus with Sir Sam Mendes and Dame Pippa Harris. His twin passions are the environment and the creative arts which he hopes to bring together with the Marlow Studio Project.


Below: The 'Hub' at Marlow Film Studios (courtesy Wilkinson Eyre)





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