From 2017 to 2018, Lacuna consulted on the City of London’s Eastern City Cluster (ECC) Area Enhancement Strategy (now called The City Cluster Vision). This is an ambitious long-term project devised to ensure the future of the area as a world class cultural destination for all.
From conducting a survey on the status of culture in the Cluster area to considering the role art would play in the wider Area Enhancement Strategy, we produced an in-depth feasibility study ‘Culture and Art Strategy for the Eastern City Cluster’. We then held stakeholder and public consultations to develop a cultural programme which would enhance the community’s work and lives. What emerged from these consultations was emphatic support for a varied and participatory cultural programme involving urban garden activities, art installations, music and food markets. Incorporating local history as well as new technologies, people would be brought together for memorable, shared experiences. This initial dialogue with stakeholders and the public was crucial in creating lasting, collaborative partnerships.
Finally, we proposed a 3-year programme of cultural activities, ‘Experience the City’, which established a vision for the area. The programme would encompass a wide range of events and activities from art and architecture to archaeology, music, food and gardening. The programme’s core aims were to improve health and wellbeing, increase active engagement, provide a greater sense of community and promote creativity and innovation.
The initial programme comprised three main projects for the first year which could be developed over those that followed, and revolved around the following streams: City Soundscapes, Urban Greenery and Activate Spaces.
The City Soundscapes stream would focus on activating the City’s architecture and spaces through a programme of site-specific, contemporary music interventions – building on previous and ongoing initiatives, including the City’s Music on Rooftops programme and the Musicity x Sculpture in the City programme.
The Urban Greenery stream would utilise the City’s existing and expanding green spaces. Site-specific activities would see workers and visitors absorbed in these green areas, facilitating a greater sense of wellbeing and connection with nature. Sites such as Jubilee Gardens, Creechurch Lane and Fen Court Garden would host activities exploring botany, health, wellbeing, food and local history. For example, by working with landscape, art and architecture practice Wayward, a Roman garden could be recreated in Jubilee Gardens. This would become the site for workshops in which local workers learned about Roman horticulture. It would also prove the perfect setting for a series of Roman feasts, where the wider public enjoyed the garden’s produce as prepared by local chefs.
The Activate Spaces project, in collaboration with Skip Gallery, would see city streets transformed by pop-up art installations, as well as art activities for workers to enjoy at lunchtime and after clocking out. For the following years, we proposed initiatives exploring local history and food cultures, under the streams of Discover the City – Heritage and Archaeology and Market Produce (Food Culture in the ECC).