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London’s major cultural institutions come together to celebrate a season like no other

Over two million visitors expected to attend world-class autumn season

London's most well-known cultural institutions are coming together in a new initiative to promote the capital's exceptional autumn season, as forecasts show over two million tourists are expected to visit a collection of blockbuster exhibitions and events taking place throughout the city.  

The stellar line-up of shows and exhibitions taking place in the autumn includes Turner at Tate Britain, Anselm Kiefer at the Royal Academy and Ming: 50 years that changed China, a major exhibition covering the Ming Dynasty reign at the British Museum featuring some of the most beautiful objects and paintings ever made in China. In “The man who never lived and who will never die”, the Museum of London will invite visitors to delve into the mind of Sherlock Holmes, the world’s most famous fictional detective, and the museum will recreate the atmosphere of Sherlock’s London through film, photographs and original artefacts.

Speaking about the impact of the blockbuster season for London's incentive travel market, Barbara Jamison, Head of Business Development - Europe at London & Partners and Site GB Chapter President 2014, says: “London’s cultural offering is of great importance to the business tourism and events sector as organisers of incentive and reward programmes seek out unforgettable experiences for their clients.   London offers unrivalled access to private viewings in art galleries, behind-the-scenes theatre and gallery tours, and discussions with well-known artists, actors and musicians. Clients can live and breathe culture by participating in hands on motivational events such as acting or producing their own Shakespeare play, making their own recording at Abbey Road Studios, treading the boards of our most famous London theatres, or having a meeting or private event at The Royal Opera House. Motivational activities and once-in-a-lifetime experiences create return on investment and that is why London delivers for so many events planners through its collage of culture and creative experiences.”

London remains the undisputed theatre capital of the world and this autumn will see a range of excellent theatrical offerings from new British based shows such as Made in Dagenham starring Gemma Arterton and the story of The Kinks rise to stardom in Sunny Afternoon.

In an effort to maintain London’s position as the most visited capital city on earth** and highlight the spectacular season ahead, London & Partners – the Mayor’s official promotional company for the capital – and the GREAT Britain campaign have produced a short film previewing the Autumn Season in London as preparations start for the key period in the cultural calendar. Narrated by the respected British actor David Harewood MBE, the film highlights some of the key artistic, literary and theatrical events available across the capital and the great historical treasures that domestic and international visitors can enjoy. (Access details for broadcast quality version below)

Last night, a launch event at Tate Britain saw industry leaders from London’s museums, art galleries, theatres and centres of performing arts gather to promote the upcoming season. The reception featured special previews of blockbuster exhibitions across the Barbican Centre, the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum (IWM London), the Museum of London, the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum, the Royal Academy, Tate Britain, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “This autumn's outstanding programme of exhibitions, plays and shows is another great reason to put London at the top of your list of places to visit. Throughout the year, the capital offers an unbeatable variety of arts and culture, attracting people in their millions from around the world. It is a fabulous success story, which we want to build on, and we are developing a plan aimed at maximising the potential of the full range of cultural activity to be found throughout our city.”

Dr Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery, said: “London’s cultural offering this autumn is world class and I expect to see even more than usual visitors as a result. The National Gallery receives 6 million visitors each year. This autumn, the National Gallery presents a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition, Rembrandt: The Late Works – this is the first ever in-depth exploration of Rembrandt’s final years of painting – and it is sure to be a huge draw for visitors from across the globe.”

David Harewood MBE, said: “As someone with strong connections to London’s cultural scene, I am delighted to support this campaign. Our vibrant city is building on centuries of history to create new exhibitions, shows and events that are truly inspiring and will draw people from across the UK and all over the world to the capital. It is vital that we continue to showcase London’s fantastic offer so that as many people as possible are moved to come and be stimulated by our city’s culture.”

Caro Newling, Society of London Theatre (SOLT) President added: “This autumn sees the West End premieres of no less than five new musicals, two of which originated in the UK. Alongside the arrival of hotly anticipated transfers from both the ‘not-for-profit’ and commercial stables across the Atlantic, the upcoming season offers an exhilarating choice of musical theatre. Added to which, three new plays will appeal to a much wider audience after hugely successful initial seasons at affiliate theatres or on tour. London Theatre continues to thrive with unparalleled quality on offer, and an ever-growing audience continues to show its appreciation.”

London & Partners CEO Gordon Innes said: “Overseas visitors to our cultural institutions generate an estimated £4 billion annually to London’s economy. As the most visited city on earth, London’s phenomenal global success continues to see record tourism figures. It is our job as a company to promote the capital’s strengths to the world and particularly our magnificent cultural collage of history and heritage, museums and art galleries, and theatre and performance. We hope this initiative will be the start of a global campaign that firmly positions London as the world capital of culture.”

Culture remains the leading driver for tourists, with eight out of ten citing it as the main reason they visit the capital. The blockbuster autumn season includes the largest exhibition of British First World War art for almost 100 years at the Imperial War Museum; a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the passion and innovation of Rembrandt's influential late works at the National Gallery; and a major exhibition offering a new interpretation of one of Britain’s best-loved artists, John Constable, at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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