Dear Mayor Boris Johnson
We’ve met a couple of times. I hear your’re supporting the skateboarders in the campaign to maintain the undercroft and the new development of The Festival Wing at Southbank Centre. My office was atop the the undercroft between 2006 and 2012. Boris? Was there a time when the skateboarders were losing the campaign? They have the best lawyers, the best online campaign and the best press. Yet they’ve created the powerful illlusion of being under resourced and underdogs bullied by the big bad mono cultural upper class corporation.If the PR had had been as aggressive from Southbank then they – the skateboarders – would be a band of near exclusively male middle class mono cultural bullies taking away the possibility of a children’s centre and community centre from the working people of South London.
But everybody loves an underdog. And an underdog in an undercroft is too good to miss, so congratulations Boris. You backed the boys and strode onto the battlefield declaring your support for the winners only after they won. We are less of a city for how easily we have not supported our greatest arts centre. I expected more of us. Southbank centre will continue working with and for minorities and marginalized voices. Southbank centre will give the majority the quality experience we have come to expect . Southbank Centre will continue to offer its free spaces and keep up its conversation with London and the world not least through its diverse artists and audience. There is another account of what has happened here mayor. When the audit is done no-one will be listening to the results. That’s politics. That’s PR.