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London has more statues of animals than of named women, audit finds

·2-min read

The number of sculptures that feature animals in London is double that of named women, a study has found, as the mayor office announces £1m fund to champion diversity in the capital’s public spaces.

The findings show that out of almost 1,500 monuments in the capital, more than a fifth are dedicated to named men (20.5%), and only 4% are dedicated to named women. The number of sculptures that feature animals, almost 100, is double that of named women.

Just 1% of sculptures are dedicated to named people of colour; 0.9% are men of colour and 0.2% are named women of colour

The study, part of a national research project by Art UK funded in part by City Hall, is the first comprehensive audit of public sculpture and monuments across the capital.

It comes as Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, announces details of a £1m fund to ensure London’s landmarks and monuments better reflect the capital’s diversity and the achievements of all who have contributed to the success of the city.

The funding is the first phase of work by the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, which is inviting community-led organisations to submit applications for grants worth up to £25,000 to help refresh their public spaces. This may include new ideas for street art, street names and other projects “to ensure we are told a fuller version of our capital’s story”, the mayor’s office said.

Last February, the mayor’s office announced the 15 panellists selected to be members of the new Landmark Commission to improve diversity in the capital’s public spaces. Its youngest member told the Guardian the commissions role was “not just about taking statues down”.

Khan announced he would be forming the commission days after a statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader, was pulled down in Bristol by Black Lives Matter protesters in June 2020.

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