Westminster launches festival of outdoor arts  

Thu, 17/09/2020

Visitors to the West End will soon be able to rediscover its vibrant arts and culture scene in a unique partnership between Westminster City Council and the area’s world-famous cultural institutions.  

From Marble Arch through Leicester Square to Covent Garden Piazza, the Inside Out festival will feature open air performances, outdoor exhibitions and installations from some of the area’s top theatres, opera houses, museums and galleries. The festival is the latest initiative from Westminster City Council to attract visitors back to the West End to enjoy London’s cultural and hospitality offerings safely.   

The programme from 1st-4th October will include:  

  • A selection of open-air performances from West End musicals, the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, and the Royal Philharmonic Brass Ensemble 
  • An open-air gallery on the National Gallery’s North Terrace, on Trafalgar Square 
  • The first ever Mayfair Sculpture Trail launched by Mayfair Art Weekend in partnership with local galleries and Art in Mayfair   
  • Light projections in celebration of new life, nature, and optimism onto Marble Arch by artist Claire Luxton, in partnership with Marble Arch London BID and English Heritage, from sunset to encourage more people to visit central London, whether it be for an evening or for a cultural weekend 
  • Light projections in Piccadilly Circus and Victoria by MTArt Agency Artists Ben Cullen Williams and Lauren Baker in partnership with Heart of London Business Alliance and Victoria BID 
  • The Photographers’ Gallery hosting a free, open-air portrait studio, selfie booths and an exhibition of work produced by young people during lockdown.    

The four-day festival has been curated to allow people to enjoy it in a socially distanced manner.  

Cllr Rachael Robathan, Leader of Westminster City Council said:  

“We’ve all missed the buzz of the West End’s theatres, opera houses and galleries, and while some are starting to reopen, we're doing everything we can to bring more fantastic art outdoors where people can enjoy it safely.  We’re delighted to be working with our cultural partners to give people a chance to sample the magic of stunning theatre, music and art on our beautiful streets and squares. We hope this is the precursor to a full re-opening of the West End when we are sure it is safe to do so.  

“We look forward to welcoming people back to the West End safely, and hope they will take the opportunity to stop for a meal or a drink while they are here.”  

Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, said:  

"I am absolutely delighted that artists and musicians of the Royal Opera House are joining the Inside Out project. It is vital for the West End, for theatres across London and for everyone who engages with the arts in any capacity that we get back to live performances, for live audiences, as soon as possible. The road ahead will be challenging, but this is a big step in the right direction, and many thanks go to Westminster City Council for showing this lead."  

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, said:  

"By bringing a series of life-size replicas onto the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square, all visitors to the area can enjoy a taste of the treasures we have inside the National Gallery. And of course, everyone is welcome to book their free tickets into the Gallery - just a few steps away - to experience the real paintings." 

David Bailey, world-renowned fashion and portrait photographer, said: 

“The West End has always been the art hub of London and the city has the most unbelievable free art exhibitions on offer. But we have to start thinking outside the box in these strange times. Like W1 Curates, a 24-hour digital art gallery which covers the outside of luxury retailer Flannels on Oxford Street where 50 of my unseen oil paintings are on display across the screens and as a pop-up instore. People unite through art, and with more projects like Inside Out, hopefully it will bring London back to life.” 

Marine Tanguy, Chief Executive of MTArt Agency said: 

"It's such a joy to see this festival representing the diversity of the Cultural scene of London. From established institutions to up and coming artists, Westminster has shown the need to be inclusive to inspire all demographics. 

All elements of the festival will comply with Government guidance and local public health advice. Further information about the festival will be confirmed over the coming days, including ticketing information for the open air performances. Tickets are due to go on sale next week.  To find out more about Inside Out and for the full programme of activities, please visit westminster.gov.uk/insideout.  

Inside Out is the latest in series of initiatives introduced by Westminster City Council to revitalise central London.  

In July the council introduced wider paving, road closures and allowed tables and chairs outside cafés, pubs and restaurants in over 50 locations across Westminster - creating a café culture in some of the country's most famous districts including Soho, Covent Garden, and Chinatown. 

The local authority has also created 11km of temporary cycle lanes and over 800 new cycle spaces to allow people to travel around the city safely.  

Inside Out has been backed by Art in Mayfair, Baker Street Quarter Partnership, Capco, The Crown Estate, Heart of London Business Alliance, Landsec, Marble Arch London BID, Mayfair Art Weekend, MTArt Agency, Northbank BID, New West End Company, Shaftesbury PLC, Society of London Theatre, Victoria BID, South Westminster BID and Unison. 

Last updated: 17 September 2020