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

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The black hole that is culture in Chester

I wrote and quoted about this a while ago.  It's a black hole because you can only see black holes through an absence of light.  Black holes become visible through their very invisibility. 

This is a classic example of how regime change and economic downturn can combine to negatively affect the lives of everyone - whatever their political persuasions.  In the meantime, as the ruling party in local government here in western Cheshire makes plenty of plans to move to shiny new offices - mainly, it would seem, at least from the outside looking in, because it feels it needs open plan offices to manage effectively - the cultural desert that is Chester continues.

And Chester is not a cultural desert because of a lack of public support.  The local schools have vibrant drama, music and art departments and put on end-of-year productions of astonishing quality.  In the summer, on the grounds of our beautiful cathedral, we are regularly regaled with astonishing productions of traditional mystery plays.  Street musicians often delight the ear in Eastgate Street, where the famous big clock overlooks crowds of eager shoppers.  And there are restaurants of all kinds to satisfy any palate.

But the local council is not getting there.  It's not just culture - I am ashamed to post a photo of my street this morning because it is full of uncollected rubbish. 

It's not just culture - for culture is not just an add-on.  Culture empowers and allows a society to talk directly to itself, to understand itself better, to describe the past and plan for the future.  Culture is key to becoming a better society.  Culture is key to articulating the needs of us all, whether rich or poor, whether active or passive.

A city the size of Chester needs a 21st century multimedia centre of theatrical, video and fine arts endeavour.  That it has nothing approaching such an installation is evidence enough of - at the very least - a substantial lack of political will.

Maybe there's reason to this madness, intentionality behind this black hole. 

Maybe some politicians don't want their society to have such opportunities to communicate so directly and sincerely with itself.

Maybe not, indeed.

I wonder.

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