I must say there are very few jobs on paper that I would like to have. I’m spoilt. I get to do what I want by having. Cent… well, let’s be honest it’s never as it seems behind the (so-called) glamour. There is a ton of work, but if we are talking strictly on paper, I would like our guest editor Justine Simons’s job. Her official title? Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries. So, what does that mean in practice?
It means she has spent many years playing a central role in the cultural revitalisation of London, working to shape strategy and establish London as a leading global creative capital.
We all still remember Cool Britannia and let’s be honest, it is a huge strength in the capital, and one reason it is so well regarded. But it took people like Justine to spread our brand globally. For example, Justine staged the capital’s biggest ever festival for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, with over 5000 events, and established the Fourth Plinth as a global exemplar for public sculpture.
As Deputy Mayor, she is a pioneering groundbreaking cultural policy. From the first-ever Cultural Infrastructure Plan to Cultural Enterprise Zones – dedicated areas to support artists, a London Borough of Culture Award to celebrate the best of London’s neighbourhoods and the UK’s first Night Czar, championing the night-time economy.
On top of this, she founded and is Chair of the World Cities Culture Forum – an influential network of thirty-nine global cities championing the pivotal role of culture.
Fifteen years of doing this job has not dampened her spirits. Justine is fantastically passionate about the creative world and is well ensconced in it, yet remains down to earth, ask her favourite food, and she replies my husband’s Bombay Aloo. She lives in Central South East London, not fancy Islington. She is a petite blond, very pretty with a splash of colour that explodes across her lips, which all defies a sterling personality and a drive to be reckoned with. This year, it’s the year of the woman in London, so see a female (but not exclusively) issue full of wonderful women across the creative industries.
Justine has given such passion and understanding for us to explore in this issue. Opening our eyes to people we want to share and celebrate with you: take Hilma Af Klint for example, the first abstract artist (well before Kandinsky) but her work was a secret until twenty years after her death in 1944. Or what about Margaret Calvert who designed all our road signs? Her work is everywhere, but hardly anyone has heard of her, well until now. There is so much more to discover in this, the courage issue.
Sink into it and explore a world that for us may well be new, but for Justine is so luckily part of her everyday world.
Thank you Justine for making this issue so much richer for us all.
Jo Phillips Editor