Move over Olympicopolis, a new culture hub is stealing the spotlight – this one in the heart of the City of London.
Tentative plans to “cement our position as a world city for culture” (in Mayor Boris Johnson’s words) involve seeking a site possibly in the triangle of land marked out by St Paul’s, Farringdon and Moorgate with a new concert hall the jewel.
The City of London Corporation wants to create the hub “based on the Barbican Centre, the Guildhall School of Music And Drama, and the Museum of London, involving the world-class cultural institutions resident there including the London Symphony Orchestra”.
It will be served by two new Crossrail stations at Moorgate and Farringdon.
The plans – first mooted in 2013 – received a major boost this week with the news that Chancellor George Osborne is backing conductor Sir Simon Rattle’s campaign for a state-of-the-art concert hall. Possibly a road tunnel under the Barbican could make way for the world-class venue but a new feasibility study will examine all options.
The concert hall would be shared by the great orchestra of the regions and could even tempt Sir Simon away from the Berlin Philharmonic where he has worked since 1999. He has highlighted the lack of a world-class hall as a stumbling block towards him coming to lead the LSO.
Mr Osborne said: “London is a world-class city with many fantastic cultural assets. I want to make it even better, so I am delighted we are looking at this with the Mayor as part of our long-term economic plan for London.
“Speaking to the likes of Sir Simon Rattle has impressed on me the significant artistic, educational and economic benefits that a modern concert hall would bring not just London but the whole country.”
Mr Johnson said: “The feasibility study will enable us to understand fully the potential to build that centre and help to cement our position as a world city for culture.”
A new concert hall would cost hundreds of millions of pounds and will bring together a number of rival arts organisations. However, the corporation is the Barbican land owner and is likely to continue leading the debate.