I suppose the big news in town today is that the Red Brick Building group have actually managed to get freehold ownership of the Morlands site building finally transferred to them. (At a £440,000 price.) This now opens the way forward for a much-needed Arts Centre for the town. This, just as the Tory Philistines rampaging through the County Council cut all arts funding in the county to zero. Zilch. Nada.
(Just shows where their priorities lie, doesn’t it ? If you can’t turn a dishonest profit from it, then it’s not worth supporting, appears to be their attitude.)
My own worries are far more prosaic. Much as I welcome a grass-roots movement supporting the development of the arts in town, experience has taught me that — in this town, at least — this may not be a bed of roses.
Take, for example, The Assembly Rooms. Variously known as : “Hippy Central”; “The Madhouse”; and other epithets of a similar nature, this is a similarly publicly-owned and controlled venture, started up with high hopes of what can come out of communal ownership; which has now gone horribly, horribly wrong. I personally haven’t set foot in there for many years; as the only time I ever did, it was obvious even to the untrained eye that the place was being used by schoolchildren to buy drugs from the unsavoury adult characters who hung out there.
Rumour has it that it’s even worse these days; with the only people to be met in there being permanently blissed out of their skulls, suspicious of strangers, and not worth even talking to.
No thank you very much.
The other communal disaster story of recent years is the Creative Arts Network — AvalonCAN. Started up in a blaze of publicity and enthusiasm in 2007 by a very wide cross-section of those interested in the arts in the community, it very rapidly degenerated into a clueless clique of airhead talkers, not doers, wafting around in diaphanous clothing, gushing : “Look at me darlings; I’m into creative expression now”.
Those serious artists who had helped create the organization in the first place promptly left. (Interestingly, the visual artists have recently re-surfaced, under another guise.)
It finally collapsed at the end of 2010, and no longer exists.
Is the Red Brick Building group doomed to go the same way ?
Only time will tell.
I wish it luck. But I’m dubious. It’s hard, fighting history.
And the public’s expectations of what this town stands for.