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The North London Arts Map and Guide

  • Date: 21 October 2011
  • Artform: Visual arts
  • Area: London
North London Arts Map North London Arts Map, Illustrated by local artist Sian Pattenden

The North London Arts Map and Guide bring together the wide range of arts and cultural venues and events across North London.

The North London Arts Partnership first published the map in July 2009, launching the guide in June 2011.

A joint initiative

The North London Arts Partnership comprises the London Boroughs of Barnet, Enfield and Haringey. The three boroughs have been working collaboratively to pull together partners for the project, to find their voice and to share it. The partnership has been cited as a best practice example in London by Arts Council England and Visit London (now London & Partners), both of whom have supported it.

Lorraine Cox, Cultural Services Manager, Enfield Council, described how the project works:

'The boroughs worked together with a very talented local artist, Sian Pattenden on the concept of literally mapping our arts and cultural offer for north London. Arts and Heritage venues, arts organisations, and individuals were contacted and asked to contribute. At first some were suspicious, but all got involved and are committed to develop the arts offer.

'We carried out some sub-regional networking events and primary research into the culture offer, the level of connectivity, and the demands of creative individuals and organisations. That research set us on the road to create the first North London Arts Map.

'We distributed the map widely through London Calling in all major tourism, arts, and heritage venues in the capital and also distributed to key bars and leisure venues. We then held our breath to see if anyone out there would hear us. London Calling reported the map was flying of the racks. A successful campaign is 75% pick up, we got a whopping 96%. We surmised that Londoners and visitors to the capital are hungry for north London arts! 

'With that success the Arts Council and Visit London backed us again and we developed itineraries for exploring North London which resulted in the recent brochure publication - North London Arts Guide. This time we distributed in Hertfordshire as well and once again they flew off the racks (100% pick up). Feedback from contributors and audiences has been very encouraging.

'Our principle advice to other groups of local authorities at this time is stick together and pull stakeholders together for the arts. We would like to thank Visit London (London & Partners) and the Arts Council for their vision in supporting us and for their continued encouragement.'

The Arts Council support

As set out in Achieving great art for everyone, the Arts Council's future vision for the arts depends on organisations continuing to innovate, collaborate and evolve to sustain excellence and make a wider impact on the nation's well-being and prosperity. Our work with local government is a key part of this vision and the Arts Council has been working closely with local authorities, such as with these three boroughs, to deliver great arts projects for their local and non-local audiences.

The outcome of the North London Arts Map and North London Arts Guide was not just about increasing profile or developing and marketing the cultural offer in the North London Boroughs; we hope it has also strengthened the arts officer partnership between the three boroughs.

Moira Sinclair, the Arts Council's Executive Director, London said:

'This map and guide will help visitors and residents get the most out of North London - and we are thrilled to support this publication to help them on their journey exploring the full cultural wealth of London.'

2012 and the legacy

The North London Arts Map and The North London Arts Guide visibly contribute to the cultural offer for the 2012 London Olympic Games and its legacy. 

The three boroughs are active in using the buzz and build up to 2012 as a catalyst to increase participation in the arts and to encourage people to explore their local and sub-regional culture offer. Moreover, the boroughs have raised the profile of local arts with non-local audiences since the first issue and distribution of The North London Arts Map. Arts venues on the map and some of which are not advertised specifically on the map, also seem to be attracting more people from outside the north area.

Heading to the future

Talking about the future projects in north London, Lorraine Cox said:

'Our next challenge is to form new projects together that will propel the cultural offer for north London further into the minds of decision makers in  these difficult times; keeping the offer on their map. 

'We are also talking about a public art and public realm seminar to gather stakeholders together in the context of the changing map for regeneration in the capital. Our theatres also continue to work closely together as part of the Outer London Theatre Network which grew out of the On the Map professional network - also supported by the Arts Council. This highly skilled group of producer/directors work together to initiate develop and share product, as well as sharing data about trends.'

Moira Sinclair commented on the outlook for future collaborations:

'In the current economic context, we need high level advocates for culture. We need people that are willing and able to talk about the impact and importance to create places where people want to live, work and visit. The outer London boroughs are one of the priorities for the Arts Council and the Mayor of London, but we need those dedicated arts officers at councils to work with us in order to achieve joint aims.

'Collaborration is part of the DNA of the arts, allowing them to evolve, innovate and create something new. Collaboration between London boroughs is increasing, and we hope that the culture teams can maintain their commitments to working and learning together to deliver services that are, and that become, an essential part of people's lives.'