ART: Letters miss the point
My letter (News Guardian, October 13) roused two responses, either missing my main point or being highly selective in replying to parts of it.
To reiterate, I was pointing out the comparative success of rundown seaside towns in south-east England in partially reinventing themselves with the help of their artistic communities.
Coun Sarah Day seemed to maintain that it is North Tyneside Council’s work-in-progress, pointing out its sponsorship or endorsement of numerous good things and festivals taking place during the past few years.
She also promoted the work of Ouseburn artists Joanne Wishart, Jim Edwards and Jane Jackson on view for purchase at the Links Café and Gallery – I hardly needed the lecture.
One thrust of my argument was the recognition that the council stewards artworks by the noted Cullercoats Colony from the late 19th/early 20th century and they should be viewable permanently as a tourist attraction.
I also suggested several vacant buildings which could be transformed into gallery space with the right sort of archival conditions. I’d like to add to my list of the Dome and Rex Hotel, the former Laburnum Avenue police station.
I didn’t go as far as suggesting a bespoke gallery like Margate’s Turner Contemporary, which saw 495,000 visitors in its first year with notional free entry – a boon to the local economy. Footfall like that is to be envied.
Undoubtedly, there will be an initial cost, which writer AM Johnson points out.
The silent majority of readers is implored to “trust the council” in its judgments.
I have no axe to grind on this front, but suggest that it actively pursues owners of empty properties to return them to early use rather than wait for any upturn in the economy.
However, even I fear Godot may turn up before that.
It is surely the council’s responsibility to hold to account its commissioned engineers and publish an anticipated completion date for work along the North Promenade and Dome.
Currently, The Links is fenced off to allow for this, with spoil accruing in the bandstand area, forcing pedestrians to access the promenade through the skate park – hardly ideal.
There doesn’t seem to be any enthusiasm for local artists to hold open studios, by which the public can view, and perhaps purchase, their wares.
Street art is often taken for granted, despite the present interest in St Oswald’s Hospice’s Snow Dogs trail, which reaches fruition with the auction of all 60 exhibits.
I’m sure we all want a vibrant coast. Premier Inn doesn’t usually build hotels without some spark in the area. Let’s not betray its trust.