Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Oh, dear ...

I have mentioned before the conversation - conversation maybe be overstating things a little - with the chief executive of a soon to be dissolved quango* about the role played by the arts in the regeneration of the inner city; how I received a disdainful reply, spoken over my head to a captive audience behind me, to the effect that in his opinion artists were undesirables with strange and perverse ways. There, so he thought, matters rested. He turned his back on me and struck up a more agreeable conversation with someone like himself in a suit.

Now comes this from the B.B.C. web site (My emphasis added.)

In Newcastle, a condemned, non-descript five-storey former solicitors' office block in the city centre has been commandeered by artists for use as studios. There will be 65 when the building is full.
Inside, the managers' cubicles have been occupied by fine artists, while the open-plan areas are littered with sculptural debris and half-finished large-scale creations.
Swathes of the generic blue carpet squares have been ripped up, the bog-standard white ceiling tiles displaced, and the building's past is further obscured by the jumbles of tools, electrical equipment, books and materials scattered around the floor. Artists in the NewBridge Project pay £15 a week for a studio. The project has also set up a ground floor gallery in an old housing association office.The initiative is run by Will Marshall and Will Strong, two Newcastle University fine art graduates, who say it has helped the local creative culture by allowing more graduates to stay in the city. One of the unique things about Newcastle is that there is this wealth of empty space," Will Strong says. There is a wealth of huge business premises slap-bang in the city centre that you can do very interesting projects from, rather than just being these scars on the city.

The reality is that Newcastle is over supplied with offices; there are two blocks within a short walk from where I sit; one of which, from external appearance at least, is beyond further commercial use without extensive and expensive refurbishment. Newer blocks have been erected in the past decade that still have no tenants. As much as I regret this circumstance, I have wonder who thought it was a good idea to add to an already saturated sector?

Full story here.

* In case you do not understand, 'quango' stands for "quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation". Supposedly an arms length way of governing, these grew and grew in numbers and size down the years and are now being culled. The purposes of many were obscure, but the top jobs were lucrative for their holders.

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