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21 June 2024

Against All Odds, Brent Council Is Investing in Its Artists

Writer, filmmaker, researcher and academic Juliet Jacques‘ spoke to Metroland Cultures director Lois Stonock, and Metroland residents, artist Adam Farah Saad, and co-founder of Other Cinemas Arwa Aburawa, for Novara Media.

Here is a short extract:

“In cities famous for their cultural scenes, across the United Kingdom but especially in London, artists are being pushed out by rising home and studio rents. This often happens all while their presence and work is used by property developers and estate agents to sell the same areas they’re being pushed out of.

During his tenure as mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has announced several plans to protect artists from such inhospitable economic forces: launched in 2019, the Creative Land Trust has done good work to ensure artists have affordable studio space, from Somerset House Studios (of which I was once resident), which offers some free residencies as well as a rates-based system from the beginning of an artist’s term, to Studio Voltaire’s artistic community, who prioritise applications from marginal and minority practitioners. Yet in a country where the majority of artists earn £2.60 per hour, the odds remain stacked against young and emerging artists from less privileged backgrounds.

In 2013, Newcastle city council proposed to reduce its funding for the arts by 100%; 10 years later, Birmingham council announced it too would stop funding the arts entirely after effectively declaring itself bankrupt (it has since halved its arts funding, with the aim of getting down to zero by 2025). In this context, what one London council is doing is genuinely innovative, and offers some ideas as to how artists and organisations might deal with such cultural vandalism.

Brent – one of London’s youngest and most diverse boroughs….”

This is just a short extract. Read the full article on Novara Media’s website.