So l sit in on a meeting of Bath Cultural Forum to hear the results of much research suggesting we need to team up with other art/cultural/digital organisations to exert pressure on everyone from B&NES Council to Arts Council England.
Quite rightly, much is said about the lack of a real space for art in this city. Unlike Bristol or Exeter – we don’t have an ‘arts centre’ and we need to start talking about ‘cultural hubs’ and ‘cultural quarters’ and how they could generate income for the city.
That we don’t make enough of what we have got.
Well the Virtual Museum has already suggested that some of our narrow shopping streets could combine into a Bath Lanes version of Brighton’s more famous shopping quarter.
However l get the feeling of listening in on a ‘lofty-perch’ view of the city. It’s a minor matter but it bugs me.
Mention was made of the Bath Corridor and how it doesn’t come up to the standard of say its bigger ‘relative – the Burlington Arcade – in London. That the only reason people visit this lesser facility in Bath is the new trendy coffee shop on its High Street Corner. All in all – it’s a shabby excuse for a city facility.
From my position on the ground l often wander through that ornately covered mini-mall and watch the ‘caretaker’ sitting on the floor each week lovingly polishing the brass beneath many of the shop windows.
Or he’s mopping or brushing through the whole passageway to clear away smells or litter.
In the meantime shops come and go. Empty windows won’t draw foot-fall.
We are not taking into account the fact that Bath – like other towns – is still suffering from localised rashes of ‘For Let’ signs. Meanwhile, high shop rents and multiple ownership don’t often make it possible to plan a concentrated and focused course of action.
I say to these people – walk through your city – see it from the same level as the people who live, work or visit here.
A loyal following with a club uniform to bind them all together. All sorts of people stand on the terraces and share a common experience.
How can Art match that. Who is going to realise it is important to provide room for it to make an impact in terms of energy, city ‘edge’ , giving people pride in Bath and bringing in the ‘dosh’!
Bath is ‘cursed’ with its set Georgian pieces. Yet those 18th century developers were canny enough to cash in on the ‘spa season’ the city had created. Maybe its all about a new image? We need to bring our festivals together and add new ones.
Bath needs to make a name for itself beside Roman Baths and Beau Nash. It needs to find a way to bring young and old together to share their dreams and find common ground.
I am still angry that the current housing development at Western Riverside did not make room for an arts centre/concert hall. Maybe Lord Sainsbury would like to make room for and put his name on one when the supermarket re-developes its own site next door.
Or let’s reserve the Cattle Market site for an arts centre – alongside Walcot – the one part of the city that does have an ‘edge’.
Someone mentioned The Pavilion? It’s a hut that needs sweeping away. If the Leisure Centre was moved elsewhere that whole space could also be used for an arts centre/concert hall.
These are the ramblings of a man who is awake at 5 am and you must excuse grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. It was something l needed to get off my chest and l want to blow some hot air on the embers of debate!