OVER TWO HUNDRED people gathered in Torquay's Riviera International Centre yesterday to discuss the culture future of Torbay, in the first ever mass creative forum of its kind.
According to a Department of Media Culture and Sport Taking Part Survey, engagement with arts and culture is low in Torbay and its cultural infrastructure is the least developed in the South West. In order to find out why, yesterday's free open space event – from 10am to 6pm - was designed for anyone with an interest in Torbay's culture to discuss their ideas, ambitions and possible new projects.
With countless different points raised, from; "What next for the oldest cinema in the world?" to "Empty shops – too good an opportunity to miss?"; and from "The Bay's History BEYOND Agatha Christie" to "Creating a Community Hub for Artists"; it was an opportunity to "shape Torbay's cultural ambitions", according to organiser and England South West Regional Director for the Arts Council, Phil Gibby:
"I'm not a fan of grand projects imposed on an unsuspecting public by a funding body from far away. I want simple, exciting solutions to emerge, and to be owned by the people of Torbay," commented Mr Gibby, "This Open Space is an interactive and inclusive way of structuring a meeting and a very dynamic way of talking about complicated and difficult things. Today we have united groups of enormous diversity from areas such as schools, colleges, museums, libraries, the Council, plus art and community organisations. Tickets went quicker than ever before and the feedback today has been excellent."
"We live in challenging economic and social times and the hot topic today has definitely been how to engage young people into culture and creativity," added Mr Gibby, "Lots of people have raised a wide variety of issues and we have recorded all the conversations that took place. We hope to digest all this information and draw realistic conclusions that we can then take to Torbay Council and develop further. Culture is great for the economy and for encouraging business growth - I truly hope this has given people in Torbay a chance to have their say."
The Arts Council will be keeping us informed of any conclusions made from the inaugural cultural forum in the near future. For more information please click here.
What do you think Torbay's cultural future should look like? Tell us here.