Bloomsbury Festival debate voices concern for London’s future

Monday 8 October 2007

For the second year running, the streets and buildings of Bloomsbury will come alive from 19th-21st October with a host of events and activities from the area’s creative, educational, and charitable organisations. Following the success of last year, the 2007 Festival will offer a superb programme packed with music, dance, theatre, film, photography, literature and debate.

One of the highlights is a programme of debate and discussion from the University of London’s School of Advanced Study in Bloomsbury. The School brings together the specialised scholarship and resources of ten prestigious postgraduate research Institutes to offer academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subjects in the humanities and social sciences. Five of these Institutes – Commonwealth Studies, Germanic & Romance Studies, Historical Research, Musical Research, and Philosophy – have arranged a free series of public debates and lectures to inspire open discussion and the sharing of knowledge as part of the Bloomsbury Festival celebrations in An Exchange of Ideas.

The first of these events, arranged by the Centre for Metropolitan History at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), raises the standard for the programme and asks: The Future of London: should we be confident or concerned? Professor Derek Keene, Leverhulme Professor of Comparative Metropolitan History at the IHR, will lead a panel of experts to examine this question against the backdrop of London’s long history as an important city, a history that has been marked by sharp upswings and downturns in its fortunes. Alan Baxter (Senior Partner of the engineering and urban design practice, Alan Baxter & Associates), Tony Travers (Director, Greater London Group, London School of Economics), and Jerry White (London historian and local government ombudsman) will join Professor Keene to examine what history and current trends can tell us about the future of this great city. A must see for anyone who has an interest in London – its past, its present and its future.

Other events in An Exchange of Ideas are no less controversial. The Centre for International Human Rights at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies raises a heated debate on Boycotting Israeli Academia: promoting human rights or restricting academic freedom? In Does ‘light’ music have a future? the Institute of Musical Research asks whether easy listening is past its sell-by date, and whether specialist groups such as the New London Orchestra, conducted by panellist Ronald Corp, can save it from the nostalgia industry. Others reflect more closely on their famed locality, such as the Institute of Philosophy’s lecture and discussion by Professor Thomas Baldwin on G. E. Moore: the philosopher of the Bloomsbury Group. In The Cappuccino Conquests, arranged by the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, Professor Jonathan Morris takes his audience on a true journey of the senses as he traces the history of Italian coffee from the origins of espresso at the beginning of the twentieth century to the global popularity of cappuccino and caffe latte today within sight, sound, smell and sip of the coffee bar in The Brunswick’s Carluccio’s.

The Future of London: should we be confident or concerned? takes place on Friday 19th October, 4.30-5.30pm, in London House, Goodenough College, Mecklenburgh Square, WC1N 2AB. Free to attend. Nearest tube station: Russell Square.

An Exchange of Ideas takes place during the Bloomsbury Festival from 19th–21st October 2007 in Bloomsbury. All debates and lectures are free to attend.

For more information, please visit or contact Dee Burn on 0207 8672 8670 or by email at

The Bloomsbury Festival is sponsored by Allied London ( ). Allied London is the UK Property development company responsible for the regeneration of The Brunswick and is the founder of The Bloomsbury Festival.