Logo

Tate director warns high cost of living is pushing artists out of London

PUBLISHED: 18:30 16 March 2016

Director of the Tate Sir Nicholas Serota, who is from Hampstead, warned that London's creative success was threatened by the high cost of living in the city

Director of the Tate Sir Nicholas Serota, who is from Hampstead, warned that London's creative success was threatened by the high cost of living in the city

PA Archive/Press Association Images

The high cost of living has forced artists out of areas like Camden and is threatening London’s place as a world leader in the arts according to one of the art world’s most influential figures.

Mornington Crescent Summer Morning 1966 by Frank Auerbach, who has lived in and painted Camden for decadesMornington Crescent Summer Morning 1966 by Frank Auerbach, who has lived in and painted Camden for decades

Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota was speaking at a Q&A at Tate Britain between Creative Industries Federation members and Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan.

According to the Evening Standard, Sir Nicholas, who grew up in Hampstead, said: “Over the past 20 years London has been one of the great successes in the field of creativity. That success is very much threatened at present.

“Fifty or 60 years ago it was possible for a young British artist to live or work in Notting Hill or Camden Town.

“Frank Auerbach, Lucian Freud, Bridget Riley, David Hockney, they all lived in the centre of the city.

“Even 20 years ago artists would come to this city to train and then they would stay on after they had finished their studies and they would go on to win the Turner Prize, like Wolfgang Tillmans and Tomma Abts, from Germany; that is no longer the case. Young students come and they are now obliged to leave when they finish their courses.

Double Portrait of Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach by Francis Bacon, 1964. Sir Nicholas cited both Freud and Camden Town artist Auerbach as examples of central London-based artistsDouble Portrait of Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach by Francis Bacon, 1964. Sir Nicholas cited both Freud and Camden Town artist Auerbach as examples of central London-based artists

“Young artists that might have thought of coming here no longer do because they can’t afford to live in London. That must give us pause for thought.”

Arts, creative industries and cultural education are the fastest growing part of the British economy since the financial crisis in 2008 and one in six of all jobs in the sector are based in London.

Mr Khan pledged to create Creative Enterprise Zones if elected, where affordable workspaces would be provided for working creatives. He also floated the idea of reduced rates and even grants as well as promising to promote philanthropic donations to the arts.

He said: “The time is ripe to open up a new wave of giving to the city’s arts and culture. Public money alone isn’t sufficient, and is increasingly scarce in these straitened times.”

He said he would “use City Hall to bring together the city’s wealthiest residents with the aim of increasing giving and donations, so that we can invigorate our arts and culture for future challenges.”


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ham&High. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Hampstead Highgate Express