London mayor Sadiq Khan ditches Olympicopolis name, but presses ahead with East London cultural hub

Politician is determined to develop arts project on Olympic site in Stratford

Sadiq Khan, who took over as the mayor of London in May, will be announcing plans to develop the cultural quarter on the 2012 Olympic site in east London. Speaking to The Art Newspaper, the Labour mayor said he has dropped the name Olympicopolis for the project.

The working title is now East London’s Heritage and Cultural Quarter, although it may well later get a snappier name. Boris Johnson, Khan’s Conservative predecessor, had coined the term Olympicopolis to chime with Albertopolis—the museum quarter established in the 1850s by Prince Albert in South Kensington.

Khan pointed out that London has “brilliant museums and galleries” but that they are all in the heart of the capital. Declaring that “we can’t rest on our laurels”, he is determined to press ahead with developing a “cultural hub” on the Olympic site in Stratford. He also welcomed recent news that Washington’s Smithsonian Institution is to put on displays in V&A East, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s planned building in the cultural quarter.

The mayor said of the Stratford project: “In the next few weeks and months I will be announcing plans to make sure we enrich the lives of Londoners in that part of London—and that we have something that is attractive to visitors from around the country and the world.”

Khan spoke to us at a launch event to publicise London’s autumn season of cultural events. Among the exhibitions he singled out were Rodin at the Courtauld Gallery, 1960s pop music at the V&A, and South Africa at the British Museum.

In his speech, Khan stressed that “London is open”, following the Brexit decision on leaving the European Union. Addressing the millions of visitors who come to the capital, he is putting out “a clear signal that London is truly open to everyone”.