plenty of pics, lots of pax - and the occasional (vox) pox on all our houses

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Chester deserves this and more

A useful proposal here to bring theatre, conference centre facilities and a much-needed makeover (whatever they say, it's much needed) to our dear city:
A report to members from Chris Cook, head of Culture and Recreation, stresses: "For Chester to stand alongside European destinations like York, Avignon, Bruges and Sienna, there is a need to develop the cultural life of the city alongside its retail, hospitality and tourism offers.
"Chester requires significant and sustained development in its cultural programme and infrastructure top compete alongside the best in Europe. "
If members give the go-ahead for the feasibility study it will examine all aspects of the proposals including a full economic impact assessment, funding and the possibility of financial partnerships.

Cllr Richard Short, executive member, Culture and Recreation, said: "Rightly or wrongly, there is a feeling that Chester has traded on its reputation for some time.
"The new council intends to remedy this situation for the good of present and future generations. The report before us could point the way to making up lost ground in this respect."

Present plans envisage a theatre with a larger auditorium than the Gateway, complemented by highly flexible studio facilities for art, dance, cinema and musical events. If the theatre and performing arts centre were to be joined by a purpose-built convention centre, conference capacity would exceed anything Chester has to offer now.
Funding for such a project could come from the local authority, the Arts Council, North West Development Agency, Chester Renaissance and private sector.
In the meantime, how about rethinking the purpose of the long-lamented Odeon cinema in the context of the above proposals? Widescreen cinema is going to be an ever-tougher business in the future - but grassroots community art, lifelong learning and video technologies could all come together in a local centre of all things related to video creation, for all Cestrians, whatever their political persuasion, whatever their opinions and points of view. Such a facility would not only empower us all but would serve to help generate the content which would allow Chester to acquire a modern interactive online face. Great for tourism, great for Chester's own sense of itself.

It would also serve to celebrate the art of a bygone era by keeping the filmic tradition in a building too iconic to be lost to the business of night clubbing.

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