London deserves a festival that reflects its status

We Londoners live in the most creative city on Earth.

That might sound like a bold statement. Wait a minute, you’re thinking. New York? Los Angeles? São Paulo? Berlin? None of them comes close. The music, fashion, architecture, film, television, theatre, art, design and advertising produced in and stimulated by our city have no parallel. 

And yet, just as many of us who live here fail to take advantage of the huge array of cultural inspiration on offer, we also fail to understand the huge gravitational pull of London on other creative communities. Yes, London is unknowably large; yes, it can be hard to get around; yes, it’s bloody expensive. Despite all this, people are desperate to come and see us and soak up what we so often take for granted in order to go away refreshed, stimulated and filled with new stuff that will inspire their own work.

Then, to get more specific, there’s east London. Nowhere is London’s throbbing, multicultural, eclectic, sometimes exasperating, always fascinating appeal more acutely felt than in the East End. Fifteen years ago, it was a wild frontier that only the bravest creative companies colonised. Now, you wouldn’t really want to be anywhere else. It has an energy and a slight craziness that creative people thrive on. And the office space is still cheaper.

Creative people everywhere are part of a global community. Sure, they compete with each other – for business, for reputation, for status – to do the best possible work. But they thrive in each other’s company, get high on other people’s brilliance, get off on the best work and eagerly soak up the advice of the world’s best practitioners. To get more specific again, the advertising and design community needs to come together periodically to look at itself, be together, consider what’s good and what isn’t, and plot a course for the future.

Festivals enable this and London needs and deserves one. Of course, there are admirable events around the world. Cannes does a great job in asserting the importance of creativity to the client community. The One Club does terrific not-for-profit work and upholds a truly high standard. But London needs a proper advertising and design festival where people can come together, see the work, hear from the people who have done and judged it, be stimulated by talks from the giants of our industry, party, drink, argue and enjoy. And if this could all happen where the cutting-edge creative action is, in London E1 – well, that would be good too.

I’m not allowed to advertise in the hallowed editorial pages of Campaign, of course. But get down to The Old Truman Brewery on 20-22 April for the D&AD Festival 2016 and be part of the creative event London needs and deserves.

Tim Lindsay is the chief executive of D&AD

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