Ideas We Love: Revitalizing Downtown Through a Creative Land Trust

We have a saying at Innovate Memphis that no one has a monopoly on good ideas, so we look near and wide for the next big thing. Here’s an idea we love from London’s Economic Strategy & Innovation Office shared recently at the 2023 Bloomberg City Lab conference. As cities continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, a persistent challenge remains: How do you bring people back to the downtown core with so many workers shifting from the office to a remote or hybrid schedule? The City of London found that the answer might not start with where but when.

While the 9-to-5 working population is no longer the downtown presence it used to be, London has relied heavily on how arts and entertainment activities outside of the traditional workday can draw people back to its urban core to live and play. Yet downtown rents make it impossible for many artists to secure nearby studio space where they can produce and collaborate on creative work. To solve both problems, London established a Creative Land Trust where donors, investors and granting organizations work together to secure vacant downtown office space and convert it into affordable studio hubs for artists. By lowering barriers for artists to produce and share their work downtown, the London Creative Land Trust has improved economic stability for creative workers and drawn more patrons back to the heart of its vibrant arts and entertainment scene. Learn more about the Creative Land Trust’s research and lessons learned here.