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Pirates Day - part of Hastings' cultural cornucopia (Photo: HBC).

Taking our cultural bearings

Although Hastings failed to make the City of Culture 2017 shortlist, can this short-lived initiative prove the catalyst for boosting the town’s image as a cultural centre? A follow-up meeting on Monday may provide the answer, writes Nick Terdre.

The meeting – the 2nd Cultural Regeneration Symposium, to use the grand official title – has been organised by the council at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, starting at 9.30am. It is expected to draw a good attendance from those with a stake in Hastings’ cultural development.

“The bid generated a huge amount of community support, and the purpose of the meeting is primarily to discuss how we can harness this enthusiasm to take forward key elements of the bid without being designated City of Culture,” Kevin Boorman, council head of communications and marketing, told HOT.

The meeting will kick off with a plenary session under the title, Using culture as a tool for regeneration and economic growth. To guide our thoughts the programme suggests we ask ourselves, where do we want Hastings and 1066 Country to be in 10 years’ time?

The meeting will then break into small groups to discuss ways of getting to wherever we’ve decided we want to get to. Each group’s insights will be reported back to a plenary session. A road map to a bright cultural future could be sorted by lunchtime.

That may be a little optimistic, but the meeting is certainly an opportunity for the cultural community to let the creative juices flow. Artist and activist Rachel Lever, who started a pro-bid petition and produced an imaginative brochure based on comments from those who signed it, would like to see Hastings making a splash in 2017 anyway, presenting itself as the Fringe to the official City of Culture’s main show. “The Fringe is always the interesting bit,” she says.

“There’s a big interest in things that depart from the set-piece script – films made on a shoe-string, art in the streets. Hastings could be the little town with the year-long fringe. We could also perhaps show how to dispense with funding and live on air, or find ingenious new ways to fund.”

A regular liaison group could be established, representing different arts and some of the movers and shakers who get things to happen, Rachel suggests. It could meet a few times a year for brainstorming sessions, maintaining contact in-between through an email group. “A sort of local arts parliament?” she wonders.

It’s a time for big thinking. Whatever your idea, Monday’s meeting will be a chance to air it.

2nd Cultural Regeneration Symposium, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill. Monday 15 July, 9.30am.

 

Posted 13:09 Friday, Jul 12, 2013 In: Arts News

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