Are You Ready To Be A Member?

When it comes to London arts and culture, membership is a rather fraught concept. On one hand it seems inimical to the spirit of the place. Our city is renowned for its eclectic inclusivity; a spirit evinced both bottom-up, in the vibrant street culture, and top-down, with the government’s commitment to keep the capital’s major cultural institutions free to all. Back in the nineties, the Met Bar’s famously restrictive door policy made it a hot-spot for A-listers from Kate Moss to the Spice Girls; this month it reopens with, apparently, a newly democratic bent. “London has changed hugely”, explains General Manager Tadgh Ryan, claiming that the Met will now welcome all comers with the ‘right attitude’.  “Members-only places are too restrictive for this decade.” We are, after all, in the era of social media, when it’s easy to establish a platform for a like-minded community, and an ordinary-Joe blogger can gain access all areas in shows, festivals and previews thanks to nothing more than a Wordpress account and a big dose of outspoken sass. Membership feels pretty redundant when everyone can have their own club. On the other hand, exclusivity becomes even more desirable when it’s harder to find. Offering a sense of belonging is a rare and powerful draw when you live in a city that is manic and nomadic, particularly when it comes to the arts. The over-abundance of shows, exhibitions and experiences on offer can make planning a cultural day out feel like an over-sexed speed-dating session.

CONTINUE READING AT LONDON CALLING...