Things are a stirring in Chester. Dismayed by the recent news that Chester council failed to secure any of the Arts Council funding for the proposed Northgate Theatre development (http://www.chestertheatreandlibrary.co.uk/?p=390) a social media movement is occurring to try and put things right.
The fact that Chester council failed to secure funding should not come as a surprise really. Despite having a landmark tourism attraction literally circling the city the ‘efforts’ to promote and upkeep the roman walls have quite frankly been abysmal. One section in particular opposite the Grosvenor Shopping Centre has been assaulted with galvanized steel sections; it’s what could be considered a criminal offence. Equally in the vast expanse of red bricked buildings quite why Travelodge were allowed to build that abomination of a building is a disgrace (well, we all know why really, that social housing didn’t fund itself…).
I’m under no illusions that a theatre is the answer to Chester’s cultural shortage, far from it really, but wouldn’t it be nice to have something that was a draw to the city for travelling music artists, theatre productions, art-house cinema, even a bloody pantomime! The theatre could be the central point for a cultural revolution, how cool would it be for Chester to have an equivalent of the Liverpool Everyman theatre.
Equally there’s no reason why Chester can’t hold festivals within the venue’s it already has. Liverpool Sound City, Brighton’s The Great Escape and the Hay Festival are all fantastic examples of this, thinking outside of the box to utilise every inch of the space available to them. This is also not to say that people are not trying. Chester Performs are one of the only shining lights in this cultural abyss. Anyone who has been to the open air theatre in Grosvenor Park will agree that you most certainly do not need a theatre to put on a grand production. Additionally Telfords Warehouse, Alexanders, The Laugh Inn and The Compass are all trying to bring something different to Chester.
A 3 day music/literacy festival within the City could be a massive boost to the whole economy, everyone benefits. It’s about time that Chester had a tourism boom that doesn’t consist of pissed up race goers frequenting the city 15 odd times a year! We can’t even get Christmas right in Chester, instead of a proper Christmas market like Manchester, Birmingham or York the council installed a few huts selling tat, another good tourism opportunity missed.
In the absence of any sense from Chester council and Visit Chester, Foregate Films have made a stand. Following the news that Oldham had secured the Arts funding ahead of Chester (still can’t quite get my head around that) Foregate Films have planned a documentary on Chester’s lack of theatre (http://www.chesterchronicle.co.uk/chester-news/local-chester-news/2013/02/07/chester-company-foregate-films-to-make-documentary-on-city-s-lack-of-theatre-59067-32759948/).
They are looking for support through a number of mediums.
Additionally some Chester locals have setup a campaign to support the cause, they can be found here:
Chester Culture give them a follow, tweet using the hash tag #wheresourculture and sign the petition – http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/whereisourculture
Chester deserves more and people power can make it happen!