Say no to Canon and Ball, is there anything going on in the south west? Please help the cultural situation in Torquay.

Convener(s): Jo Hammett

Participants: Jo and Matt

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

We decided that the fate of Torquay was similar to other regions in the UK, unemployment is high, house prices high and wages very low.  With a season from May to September the area depends on tourists for its main income mostly family holidays and stag and hen weekends that finish when the schools go back.  Or when the weather turns terrible. 

Artists make up less than 1% of the population, two theatres, one of which is under threat.  There is a room in the local museum with a few pictures of Torquay back at the turn of the century…used to have a loose infrastructure supporting up and coming young bands (eg Muse) but seem to have been swamped by tribute bands.

Ways to attract artists of all disciplines to the area:

Lots of flexible (but low paid work in the bay, catering for the tourists, bar work, waitressing etc.

Beautiful area of the country. 

No competition as no other bugger there.  Apart from hundreds of OAPs.

Lots of drugs.

Hundreds of caravans lie lonely in the winter season, could ready an artist’s creative retreat.  Commission a series of works in and around caravan parks. 

Caravan theatre.

Torquay, Paignton and Brixham have miles of good promenade space, full of sunburnt tourists, ideal for street artists or a summer programme of outdoor theatre.

Open air theatre. 

Main employer in the bay left last year, however St Ivel still a strong employer (yummy custards and trifles): festival of new and established comedy (that’s NOT Jim Davidson).

Family or Children’s festival in July or August.

Southampton Live a good example: hosting an interesting festival of work.

Brighton a good example of a seaside town, investing in it’s cultural tourists.  Lots to learn from them, cultural tourists spend lots of money, good for the area. 

Festival of end of the summer season for the locals.

Welfare State a good example of a company going to a less than desirable town and helping the rejuvenation of flailing arts community. 

Conclusions:  Good ideas to promote awareness and interest in the arts, and artists to the bay, perhaps one day so that artists will honestly ‘like to be beside the seaside.’