London’s New Cultural Districts and the Power of Collaboration

Tessa Marchington, Founder

One week ago, last Friday lunchtime, five of our Music in Offices clients formed the first Moorgate Music Club, reclaiming their lunch break to sing together. David MacDonald at BACB kindly offered to host as choir members from Trowers & Hamlins, Macquarie, BACB, SEI and Standard Chartered collaborated for a singing workshop and lunchtime social. What better way to spend a Friday lunchtime?

Our small-scale partnerships echo the wider changes in cultural collaboration happening now across London.

This week, Sadiq Khan announced the winners of the new London Borough of Culturecompetition (Waltham Forest for 2019 and Brent for 2020) which encourages different boroughs to increase their cultural activities and place more importance on connecting their businesses and communities – and music and collaborative performances are at the heart of these experiences.

“London is a hotbed for creativity and innovation, and one of our greatest strengths is that we’re a city of cities.”

Sadiq Kahn

Culture Mile (City of London); Team London Bridge; The Knowledge Quarter (Kings Cross); International Quarter (Stratford) and Artist Quarter (also Stratford) are all creating cultural hubs to regenerate their areas.

Sian Bird, Strategic Partnerships Manager at Culture Mile, told me a little more about the aims of the organisation in the City of London:

“Cultural districts are about collaboration.

At Culture Mile we’re interested in what we can achieve if we truly make the most of everything we have in this area – the global finance and professional companies, the innovative technology sector, the growing retail and hospitality offer, the extraordinary heritage, creative and learning organisations. It’s this fascinating mix that increasingly attracts people to the area. Alongside the physical connectivity that Crossrail now offers, we want to facilitate social connectivity within Culture Mile.

We aim to break down sector barriers, uncover shared interests – like creative thinking and innovation – to enhance the experiences of those who live, work and visit Culture Mile. And not just because we think its a nice thing to do, but because we think this is the way to generate real benefit for everyone involved and create distinctive, valuable cultural districts.”

Collaborative music-making through choirs, bands, orchestras can be a shortcut to achieve this. It’s a genuinely inclusive activity with immediate results of connectivity, proven in many spheres, be it political (the Divan Orchestra), social (such as El Sistemaor London Youth Choir) or economical (the business benefits of MIO). To achieve a combination of all three through inter-generational music-making in office choirs, school choirs and charity choirs (such as Choir with No Name) is to have a recipe for a happy and harmonious borough.

Do you live or work in any of the London Quarters? I’d love to hear about whether you’ve seen any changes in your area and about any new developments I might have missed.

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