Regular readers (do I have any?) will know of my involvement with the Save The Clifton campaign. At present, five of us are working to save a cinema and adjoining building to create a multi-use community arts centre.
Over the years, I’ve had some involvement in cultural capital projects in my capacity as a local government officer and it would be fair to say that recent austerity has put the kibosh on a great deal of publicly funded cultural investment. But even if we claw our way out of the present mire, I wonder if there’ll ever be a return to the levels of investment we saw a decade ago?
Remember all those ill-fated Millennium projects?
The Clifton got me thinking whether the future is community-inspired, community-owned-and-run projects as the new norm?
Sure, someone has to stump up the money in the first place but isn’t it the case that for the long haul, the sustainable business model – the well of enthusiasm and sense of ownership, the lack of political interference that independent people-power projects provide can offer is the best hope? (that’s quite enough ‘P’s – Ed). In our case, only time will tell but we’re looking beyond the straight out commercial approach to creating a centre where arts are used for community cohesion, to tackle isolation and to offer opportunities to engage in the Arts as a form of, well, therapy. We’ll need to find backers and we’ll certainly be looking at share issues and crowdfunding but if we can persuade the local authority to support us in saving the building, we might just be able to say “we’ll take it from here.”