Londoner’s Diary: I’m with XR aims, says Tate chief Balshaw

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Maria Balshaw   (Dave Benett)
Maria Balshaw (Dave Benett)

Welcome back to the Londoner’s Diary. First up Tate director Maria Balshaw says visitor numbers aren’t the be all and end all, not least because visitors are the biggest cause of carbon emissions for the galleries. Vigil director James Strong had some harsh truths for the cast last night and presenter Ben Fogle grumbles about fashion weeks. In SW1A Lord Norton says MPs must get out before their Westminster building fully falls apart and Boris Johnson trots out the same Franglais phrase he’s used eight times before.

Thursday 23 September 2021 10:25 , Robbie Smith

Tate director Maria Balshaw has indicated that her museums will not prioritise visitor numbers because of the climate impact of those who come to the sites.

“Of course I don’t want to stop visitors to a museum,” Balshaw, pictured, told an event yesterday. “But the idea that you can define the best museum by the most people coming — I do want to challenge that.”

Visitors are the biggest cause of carbon emissions for the Tate, Balshaw said. She explained that as a result she wanted to deepen “our engagement in London with local audiences, people who walk or use public transport”. She added: “Of course we’ll welcome tourists that come back to London, but I hope many of them are on the Eurostar and that flying becomes rarer.”

“I’m with XR,” Balshaw also told the event on the museum of the future at Art Basel in Switzerland. “I would like net zero by 2025. If we do not strive for that… we will not start to make the changes that are necessary”.

She pointed out that when it came to reducing carbon emissions: “We all should be doing this, but until the last two years many parts of the sector weren’t doing it or were still pretending it’s not really their problem”.

SW1A

Thursday 23 September 2021 15:00 , Robbie Smith

Parliament “could experience a catastrophic failure at any time” because the estate is in such poor repair, says the chair of the History of Parliament Trust. At the launch of book 300 Years of Leadership and Innovation in Westminster last night, Lord Norton told us: “If you work in it you start to recognise the extent of decay… when it rains you will see buckets”.

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Boris Johnson trotted out his Franglais yesterday, telling the French “donnez-moi un break” after they expressed anger over being unceremoniously cut out of the Aukus pact. It’s not the first time Johnson has used the phrase. Journalist Michael Deacon points out he’s made the same request eight times, dating back to 1994. It’s us who need the break, please.

Thursday 23 September 2021 14:30 , Robbie Smith

Harris Reed and Clara Paget (Dave Benett)
Harris Reed and Clara Paget (Dave Benett)

London was firing on all cylinders last night. In Farringdon, Clara Paget dined with Harris Reed, who was celebrating his Missoma jewellery collaboration. In Mayfair, Jack Whitehall and girlfriend Roxy Horner enjoyed a private viewing of Elena Gual’s exhibition at Grove Square Galleries. Jaden Smith was at The Old Selfridges Hotel for his collaboration with the Selfridges, while DJ Pete Tong was at the Ministry of Sound for a Virgin Media bash.

Thursday 23 September 2021 14:00 , Robbie Smith

Ben Fogle (Dave Benett)
Ben Fogle (Dave Benett)

BEN FOGLE doesn’t think much of fashion weeks. “Haute couture seasonal fashion is merely fast-fashion dressed up with a high price-point,” he grumbles to us. The eco-activist and adventurer thinks people ought to follow his method of wearing the same jackets and shirts for decades. “They become a part of me, not apart from me,” he says. “They become patched and weathered with every experience.” Making the plea for seasoned fashion to be this season’s fashion.

Thursday 23 September 2021 13:45 , Robbie Smith

Paterson Joseph (Paterson Joseph)
Paterson Joseph (Paterson Joseph)

Vigil director James Strong had some hard truths for the cast last night. The BBC show’s set has already been “very carefully deconstructed,” sent elsewhere, and even chucked in the recycling. A distressed Paterson Joseph, who plays the submarine’s commander, groaned during the Bafta Scotland Q&A: “I don’t want to know this. Can we move on please?” Actor Lorne MacFayden said forlornly “I want to have the wrap party in the submarine.” Consider those hopes torpedoed.

Slice of normality as FT cakes return

Thursday 23 September 2021 11:30 , Robbie Smith

How to tell London is getting back to normal? One reliable bellwether is the Financial Times’s cake trolley. The waist-enlarger, which has its own Twitter account, and is a favourite of journalists at the pink ‘un has been dormant throughout Covid. Yesterday it returned to the newsroom in tray rather than trolley form. The banana and chocolate cake and Bakewell slices “disappeared in minutes”, FT Works and Careers editor Isabel Berwick tells us. She adds: “We’ll know things are properly back to normal when we hear the clinking of the trolley being wheeled through the office.” Getting there.

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