Assembly Rooms Mk II ?

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.


About glastonburycomment

- a social commentator, resident in Glastonbury
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3 Responses to Assembly Rooms Mk II ?

  1. GM says:

    During WW2, Winston Churchill’s finance minister said Britain should cut arts funding. Churchill replied: “Then what are we fighting for?”

  2. Editor says:

    Unfortunately, this quote apocryphally attributed to Churchill is not in any way verifiable. In other words — Nice soundbite; pity he never actually said it.

    And in any case — we’re not talking about Big Government cutting the funds from under the arts (remember, the RBBC have raised the funding for this venture *themselves*). We’re talking here about the tendency in this town for any worthwhile arts activity to eventually be first swamped, then totally wrecked, by well-meaning, but totally unrealistic, utterly off-their-faces, completely self-indulgent, ‘alternative’ elements.

    It happens time after time after time.

  3. jones says:

    Sir, your disgusting and slanderous defamation of the ‘Assembly Rooms’ is proof positive of your amateurish and ego-centric mindset. First you tell us that you have not ” set foot in there for many years ” adding that that was on only one occasion. Then you set about telling us how awful it was, with supposed drug dealing and the like. I have to ask you if you reported this to the police and can you quote the crime reference number you would have been given. Because if the scenario you painted actually happened and you did not report it then you whole heartedly condoned the very action you claim to have witnessed. So please don’t be surprised when I dismiss this libelous babble out of hand. If you must attempt to critique places or events its best if your knowledge is somewhat better than “several years ago”.
    The ladies and gentlemen of ‘The Assembly Rooms’ work long and hard to pursue the aims of the organisation. A glance at the events page on their website provides ample proof of their dedication. But there again I doubt if proof can triumph over your bigotry and surfacing seething resentment over lord knows what.

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