The Southbank Centre has released two new images of its proposed plans for the much-debated new Festival Wing, along with a pledge to bring free art and cultural experiences to two million people a year. This will involve an expanded free festival programme including new display spaces, year-round roof gardens (triple the size of the current garden), and an increase in its free education programme.
Some of the new venues promised include the Glass Box, where visitors are brought close to the world’s great orchestras as they rehearse and perform; the History House, a dynamic exhibition space showcasing the histories of individuals, neighbourhoods and cultural movements that have transformed lives; and the Word Space, the first large-scale poetry and literature centre in London, including the relocated Poetry Library.
This comes hot on the heels of last week’s release of the latest plans for the skatepark under Hungerford Bridge. The space is 10 percent larger than the existing one and will include a top-lit roof, numerous steps and ramps, more space for wall art, wall rides for BMX riders and plateaus for parkour. Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre, says: ‘By creating this permanent new space we are the first cultural institution in the world to fully recognise that street culture is culture.’
However, not everyone’s convinced. The skatepark plan is a ‘defiant avoidance of popular public opinion’, says Long Live Southbank, a group campaigning to save the current skatepark. Planning permission is being sought and the new space is scheduled to open by the end of 2014. Will the skaters get on board?