Glastonbury 2015: Bring festival to London in 2023, says Labour MP Gareth Thomas

Mr Thomas is vying to be the party's mayoral candidate

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Indy Politics

Glastonbury would be moved to London for one year as part of a 2023 European Capital of Culture celebrations for the capital, one of the MPs bidding to be the city’s mayor has suggested.

Gareth Thomas, who is vying to be Labour’s mayoral candidate, suggested Epping Forest or Hackney Marshes could stage the music festival in a series of arts and culture “pop-ups” if London won the 2023 bid. Mr Thomas, who is MP for Harrow West and standing against Tessa Jowell, Sadiq Khan, Diane Abbott, David Lammy and Christian Wolmar for the candidacy, also said major arts institutions could stage pop-up exhibitions in outer London, which would have titles such as Tate Croydon or the Royal Academy Havering to stimulate investment and tourism in the “doughnut” areas that have been struggling with cuts to arts budgets.

The MP said his idea for outer London to benefit from a 2023 European Capital of Culture bid had the backing of Neil MacGregor, the outgoing director of the British Museum, Courtney Pine, the legendary jazz musician, and Digby Jones, the former director general of the CBI.

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Mr Thomas said he hoped to persuade Glastonbury’s founder, Michael Eavis, to transport the Pyramid Stage 140 miles east to the capital for one year only.

Bidding for the 2023 Capital of Culture would be one of the first major projects the new mayor would have  on his or her agenda after the 2016 election.

The MP pointed out: “The next opportunity for a European city to be capital of culture is 2023. Bidding starts in 2017, meaning the new mayor would have six to 12 months to pull the bid together.

“London is already well-served by major cultural institutions in the centre, but outer London has had a lot more pressure on arts funding and arts venues. There is a huge amount of artistic talent in London.

“And as part of the overall bid why not bring Glastonbury to London for one year to help anchor the year of arts and culture. We know the mud of Glastonbury is high quality – the mud of outer London is even more refined than Glastonbury.”

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