Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Ken and culture

Ken Livingstone is trying to draw clear blue lines between him and Boris, this time on culture.

I'm voting for Ken, reluctantly, and one of the reasons why I'm doing so unenthusiastically is the policies he set out today.

Ken's approach to culture is trite, made for the easy soundbite, and while it has a veneer of coherence, really says nothing at all.

Ken's only major initiative has been endless festivals, the important of which are dubious. London's cultural vitality comes from the preponderance of great cultural institutions (the British Museum, Royal Opera House, etc.) and several important pockets of flourishing local and neighbourhood cultural production, a lot of it community and voluntary based.

The mayor has had little impact on either. The whip hand on London's cultural policy is held by institutions of national and international importance, which have no business being told what to do by the mayor, and the boroughs, which look on him with suspicion.

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