Cultural Recovery Plan 2021 to 2022

Southwark has always been a centre of creative excellence with a vast cultural footprint that sets it on the international stage. All the way from the docks and bridges lining the River Thames, down to the greener edges in the south of the borough, there are world-class galleries, museums, colleges, and community libraries with busy events calendars.

We are home to makers and creators, film sets and festivals, spaces and studios. The people living, working and studying in Southwark, and the visitors to this diverse borough, all contribute to this unrivalled cultural landscape.

Our current cultural strategy, Creative Southwark 2017 - 2022, aims to place culture and creative industries at the heart of our priorities, shaping the context and delivering a range of programmes that support our long term ambition of Southwark being the first choice for people to live, work, study and visit.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the borough’s arts and culture sector has been significant: art galleries, theatres and museums were closed for extended periods between March 2020 - July 2021 and almost all commercial and community events were cancelled during 2020, with many continuing to suffer cancellations throughout 2021 due to ongoing uncertainties. Most of the borough’s cultural organisations have experienced significant financial losses due to loss of hire income, performance fees, box office and trading income, and cancellation of fundraising activity. Many organisations that have now re-opened, in full or in part, are doing so with reduced capacity staff teams.

The impact on the cultural sector has been felt directly by public-facing organisations and their staff. But audiences, many individual artists, the casual freelance workforce and supply chain businesses have suffered as well. As have many other industries who rely on arts and cultural activity to attract passing trade to their own services, such as the hospitality industry and transport providers.

Page last updated: 12 January 2024

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