For our latest #uandithink event, hosted digitally in partnership with Festival of Place, Patricia Brown Founder of London 3.0 invited Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE to a conversation to share his perspective on the future of the capital.
U+I is a core supporter of London 3.0 which was founded by Patricia Brown as an ongoing initiative to explore the future of London and seek new solutions and leadership that respond to our time, challenges and values. You can find out more here.
Kwame Kwei-Armah is an acclaimed actor, playwright, director, broadcaster, critic, political activist and Artistic Director of the Young Vic. He is a Londoner through and through. His life and career have been intrinsically enmeshed with the capital, and he cares passionately about the future of his city.
As we slowly emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, during which time the inequalities in our society have been laid bare, we have the opportunity to consider the aspects of life that we want to take into the future, and those we should leave behind. We have all enjoyed discovering nearby green spaces, meeting our neighbours and shopping locally, so how can we take this newfound appreciation for community-life to an urban scale?
Kwame believes that art and technology should be central to the capital’s evolution, arguing that both need to be considered independently and together – in terms of quality and access – to maximise the benefit to Londoners.
‘Art is the measure by which civilizations are judged’, so when our cultural institutions are able to open up again, we need to create events and initiatives that encourage people out of their homes. It was heartening that a poll of webinar viewers showed that the vast majority are looking forward to returning to theatres – highlighting the affection many feel towards the arts. However, art should be available on every street corner, giving access to people of all ages, races and class.
The pandemic has made us even more reliant on technology, as we have adapted to working from home and connecting with loved ones via video call. But as our lives become increasingly digital, we need to break out of our tech-induced bubbles to reconnect with other people, other spaces and other ideas. Art is the catalyst for this, but we need to take collective responsibility to support venues and grassroots initiatives, or risk losing them altogether.
Kwame’s passion and insight were both inspiring and motivating. As the country emerges from lockdown into economic uncertainty, it’s more important than ever that we work together to support the arts and deliver positive change in London and other cities across the country.
London 3.0 is an ongoing initiative exploring the future of London and seeking new solutions and leadership that respond to our time, challenges and values. You can find out more here.