Great work done but need more fo­cus on arts in town

Loughborough Echo - - LETTERS - Paul Good­man

YVETTE Cooper has re­cently suggested that the Gov­ern­ment sup­port the idea of an an­nual Arts Town award to sup­ple­ment the City of Cul­ture award.

This would cel­e­brate ideas, in­no­va­tion and prac­tice in what are of­ten de­scribed as post-in­dus­trial, mid­dle-sized towns, which have over a pe­riod of time faced quite harsh fund­ing re­stric­tions.

Un­like Britain’s ci­ties which have a younger de­mog­ra­phy and an arts of­fer that sup­ple­ments the vi­brancy of their pubs, clubs and nightlife, our towns are smaller and more lo­cally ac­ces­si­ble and have the po­ten­tial to en­hance the leisure time and qual­ity of life of all peo­ple and of all ages.

I am won­der­ing what the views of our lo­cal politi­cians and movers and shak­ers might be? What do they think of Lough­bor­ough’s cur­rent of­fer of arts and cul­ture?

I re­spect and ap­pre­ci­ate the hard work that Charn­wood Arts, Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity, Lough­bor­ough Art Col­lege and oth­ers have put into stim­u­lat­ing a lo­cal arts of­fer.

How­ever, Charn­wood Arts re­mit is bor­ough-wide (for the whole of Charn­wood) and they have been fight­ing a de­fen­sive ac­tion, strug­gling with ever-di­min­ish­ing bud­gets. Won­der­ful though Loogaba­rooga, the Mela and Pic­nic in the Park are!

Lough­bor­ough is a proud and sig­nif­i­cant town, stand­ing cen­trally be­tween the three ci­ties of Le­ices­ter, Not­ting­ham and Derby. We are soon to get 3,000 more homes at Garen­don. And yet lo­cal peo­ple have faced a less­en­ing cul­tural of­fer - li­brary re­duc­ing, mu­seum strug­gling, town hall com­mu­nity area un­der-per­form­ing, and the Town Hall pro­gramme be­ing, in my view, lim­ited in its range of of­fer to what it re­gards as safe ac­tiv­i­ties such as trib­ute bands, co­me­di­ans, lo­cal am­a­teur dra­mat­ics (I would like to rec­om­mend Stam­ford Arts Cen­tre as an good ex­am­ple of what can be of­fered in a town).

We don’t seem to have a jazz club, nor do we have a folk club. In my view, en­joy­ing the arts is not an elit­ist or pe­riph­eral is­sue.

The arts are there for every­one. They lib­er­ate peo­ple’s ta­lent, cu­rios­ity and creativ­ity and im­prove peo- ple’s hap­pi­ness and well be­ing. And they are a vi­tal cog in the wheel that is the lo­cal econ­omy..... peo­ple en­joy­ing the arts also visit pubs and restau­rants which helps sup­port lo­cal eco­nomic re­gen­er­a­tion.

I am not crit­i­cal of any­one in­volved in de­ci­sion mak­ing about or procur­ing arts and cul­ture ac­tiv­ity for Lough­bor­ough but I feel, based upon the last 10 years of my life liv­ing in Lough­bor­ough, that the range on of­fer is cer­tainly de­creas­ing..... and that is very sad.

I wel­come Yvette Cooper’s sug­ges­tion and I in­vite any­one who can to sup­port this ini­tia­tive and to bat for Lough­bor­ough and what it could be.

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