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BoJo to Back London’s Culture through ‘Tough Times’

BORIS JOHNSON is backing London’s culture industry to beat the downturn blues.

The London Mayor yesterday unveiled plans under the oddly Orwellian heading The Cultural Metropolis, which include an arts Oyster card, a musical instrument ‘amnesty’ and a Story of London event set for June next year.

“There are tough times ahead, but I am committed to helping the cultural sector cope,” said Johnson. “For it to flourish and for people to be creative, we need to be brave with funding and bold in our vision. I want to maintain the capital’s status as one of the great world cities for creativity.”

London relies on its culture industry more than any other comparable city. Out of its 15 million tourists a year – 50 per cent more than New York and Paris – 70 per cent say that the city’s culture was a vital factor in deciding to visit.

The arts Oyster card scheme is still at the drawing board stage, but one idea is for already existing Oyster cards to work in galleries, museums and the like, while another version is for a new card to be given free to school kids and old folk.

Under the music ‘amnesty’, unwanted instruments would be handed in to a central pool and from there transferred to youngsters, while the Story of London sounds like BoJo’s sop to his enemies in the multi-cultural crowd, with its aim of looking at the history of London’s various ‘communities’.

Other elements of the Cultural Metropolis are a London Film Day, with fun screenings around the capital and a £1.4 million pot into which local arts groups can dip.