The 8th Pillar of Wisdom
Munira Mirza - Mayor of London's Office
Radisson Habiba Hall
In the summer of 2011, the Mayor of London organised a season of events about contemporary Arab culture, titled “Shubbak.” Munira Mirza—advisor to the Mayor on the strategy for arts and culture—took the opportunity of the March Meeting to hear from artists, museums, galleries and arts organisations in the region about how they would wish to be involved and to discuss ongoing partnerships.
The Mayor of London is organising a season of events in summer 2011 about contemporary Arab culture, working in partnership with museums, galleries and arts organisations in the city and the Arab region. This follows on from similar events about India and China.
The Arab world is increasingly important to London from a business and cultural perspective, and this is an opportunity to showcase exciting developments in the region as well as to rethink attitudes and stereotypes. There is much that Londoners do not know about modern Arabic arts and culture. However, such a project is open to challenges regarding programming, political sensitivities, and corporate support. How can we portray the complexity and range of culture in the contemporary Arab world, and how does one choose? How can we avoid creating new stereotypes and pigeon-holing on both sides? This visit to Sharjah is a chance to hear from artists in the region about how they would wish to be involved in this and ongoing partnerships.
“Shubbak” is organised by the GLA (Greater London Authority), which is a strategic authority with a London-wide role to design a better future for the capital. It is headed by the Mayor of London who is in charge of setting the overall vision for the capital and draws up strategies and policies to deliver the vision. His work includes making it easier for people to move in and around the city, transforming open spaces into cleaner, calmer, greener places, tackling housing and health inequalities, giving young Londoners a better start in life, championing the city at home and abroad. The Mayor is elected every four years, alongside the London Assembly. The 25 Assembly Members hold the Mayor to account by examining his decisions and actions to ensure he delivers on his promises to Londoners.
Munira Mirza advises the Mayor of London on his strategy for arts and culture, with a key focus on the Cultural Olympiad and 2012, and arts and music education for young people. She has worked for a range of cultural and charitable organisations including the Royal Society of Arts, the independent think tank Policy Exchange and Tate, and has taught at the University of Kent and the University of East London. In 2009 she completed her PhD in Sociology at the University of Kent, examining developments in UK cultural policy and multiculturalism. She edited the book Culture Vultures: Is UK arts policy damaging the arts? and was the co-author of the report Living Apart Together: British Muslims and the Paradox of Multiculturalism. She is a member of Arts Council England, London Regional Council, MLA London, and the Renaissance London Board.