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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Deputation to Bournemouth Council on behalf of the Arts

September 17th 2013
Deputation to Bournemouth Full Council
On behalf of Bournemouth Creatives.
Arts by the Sea and future investment
Peter John Cooper - theatre professional and writer.  I have run companies in Oxford and North Wales and other part of the UK.  I have been chair of a number of County wide arts organisations.  Resident of the Borough for three years. Speaking on behalf of Bournemouth Creatives and other arts organisations.
A few weeks ago I was honoured to be asked to represent the creative peoples of Bournemouth and Boscombe here. According to The Council Procedure Rule 38(a)(iv) I may not refer to the tragic demise of the Boscombe Community Centre for the Arts. But I would like to pick up and develop a few incidental ideas from that presentation about the future arts provision in the Borough.
Firstly I would like to applaud the Council for its far sighted support for the Arts by the Sea Festival
Let me quote “The aim is for the Festival to become a major cultural event in the international calendar: an artist-led festival that enables regional, national and international artists to create new work, and showcase their best work, encouraging local, national and international visitors to Bournemouth.” Hurrah.
This is a marvellous opportunity for the Borough to kick start its commitment to regeneration. In order to do this we must encourage a growth outside the weeks of the festival itself to encompass the arts as they impinge on our residents on a day to day way by the artists living and being educated here. Bournemouth and Boscombe have always been the home of significant writers and artists from Robert Louis Stephenson to Aubrey Beardsley to Tony Hancock.  We need to harness the heritage and skills and connections of these and living artists, the whole arts community, to deliver that vibrant renaissance we all seek.
The Arts by the Sea Festival has thrown up an interesting conundrum. the regeneration officer from the council, has been asking local businessess for use of premises for the festival as the precinct which they were using has filled up.  We just don’t have the venues.
We do have some brilliant small spaces such as the Winchester in Poole Hill But it is a fact of life that Small, temporary spaces church halls and night clubs do not encourage investment or create the bigger international scale buzz that we need. The South West Dance centre is a useful guide to what can be achieved.
But we are one of the only towns (and one with city status ambition) that has no community arts hub. look at Southampton, Newcastle Gateshead. In fact it is a sad fact that we have less arts provision than Sturminster Newton.  There is a lack of provision for public gallery space or space for music making or theatre production. And we are certainly lacking a wet weather general arts centre that will exploit the skills of local artists for the benefit of visitors throughout the year.
Margate with its problems of high levels of drug addiction, Houses of Multiple Occupancy, poverty, and a High Street of empty shops and businesses is now listed in the top ten gallery destinations world wide and the whole area is benefiting from the additional tourists, jobs, created by its newly opened Turner Gallery. It can be done.
It will take money – lots of it but One of the great resources we have at our disposal in the Borough is a large number of artists who are significantly engaged in their fields of enterprise, writers, film makers, poets, painters  and performers. I urge the council to make use of this resource in advancing its plans for the future regeneration.  We are at your disposal.  Make use of our knowledge and expertise and let us not have any more disasters like the one which befell the community so recently.