Tonight I am addressing the Barnet Children, Education, Libraries & Safeguarding Committee, who are discussing proposals to put together a bid for Barnet becoming the London Borough of Culture.
The members of the committee are as follows:
As I only have three minutes and there is a lot to say, I am emailing them as follows, prior to the meeting, to ensure they understand the points I am making and that I am serious. Here is my email
Dear Committee members,
Tonight I will be addressing the CELS committee regarding the subject of a proposed bid for The Barnet Borough of Culture. I have taken the opportunity to email you prior to the meeting, so that you can have some background to my proposals and so that you can give the issue some serious consideration and formulate any questions or ideas you may have.
Having read the papers, I feel that the whole structure of the process of putting a bid together is flawed. The formation of the steering committee and the invitees to meetings strikes me as far too corporate and top down to have any real prospect of success. Whilst all of the organisations are worthy in their own way, they are generally not involved in culture or arts as a primary function.
To have a credible bid, Local stakeholders should have been engaged. I have put together a non comprehensive list. I would suggest that if we are serious, each group of ward councillors should reach out to their local ward organisations and provide a full list of all relevant stakeholders, who could feed into a bid. Below is a list I managed to pull together of the type of organisations that should have been involved.
1. Small charities, like ArtReach, Nutmeg, BEAT, Community Focus.
2. Charities that do not have arts and culture on the label - Age UK Barnet, BMER charities, MIND, Alzheimers Society, BBSI, Barnet Mencap, etc, because they are probably engaged in some of these activities (arts and crafts, dance, singing) and they have audiences
3. Large businesses associated with the creative sector - ie fashion companies - Pentland, Halletts Retail, and Barry M.
4. Venues - Phoenix and Everyman cinemas, The Bull Theatre, Chickenshed, the pubs and clubs that have live music like the Chandos Arms, The Butchers Arms, The Bohemia and also places like the Art Stables, Finchley Youth Theatre, Clitterhouse Farm.
5. SMEs - Mill Hill Music Complex, The Filmyard, Planet Jump, Maven Designs, Rekid Records, Acxis Architects, dance schools, Bodens, drama clubs, amateur theatres, music schools, art classes
6. The artists networks - East Finchley Open Artists, Creative Cricklewood, N12 Artists, North London Artists Network, Studio N3 and The Mill Hill Musical Theatre Company.
7. The historical societies - Barnet Museum, Battle of Barnet dig, HADAS, Barnet Society, Finchley Society, Mill Hill Historical Society.
8. The many festivals in Barnet - Cherry Tree Woods Festival, Mill Hill Music Festival, East Barnet Music Festival, Proms at St Judes, Finchley Literary Festival, North Finchley Music Festival, East Finchley Arts Festival, Clitterhouse Farm Arts and Crafts Festival, and Barnet Horse Fair.
9. The business networks - Love Your Doorstep Barnet, N2 Unlimited, Athena Network, Buzzing Business Club.
10. Schools and colleges, specifically inviting those with creative societies and clubs (ie film clubs, photography clubs and drama clubs)
11. Local Churches. Choirs, groups etc
12. Local youth groups, Rainbows, Cubs, Scouts etc who may be interested.
13. Local community radio staions (LGR, Barnet Community Radio, etc)
14. Local Libraries
I would suggest a formation in each ward of a ward panel or grouping, to pull together a list of assetts and activities that could feed into the bid. I would suggest that councillors facilitate this but do not lead. I would suggest where possible using libraries as a hub for these activities.
On a borough level, I would suggest appointing an Arts and Culture Tsar, who has a leadership role and resources to pull this all together. It must be someone with arts experience. I would suggest that the person is a political nominee and ideally would have across the board support. I would suggest that as a minimum, they should have experience of organising festivals and work in an arts and creative sector.
As to the role of organisations such as Brent Cross and the other corporate entities, their commercial nous and potential to host events should also be recognised and it would be great for them to second professional resources for finance, promotion and logistics support. I would recommend the creation of separate sub committees to facilitate and support all events. Middlesex Uni could also provide
This is how I think Barnet might actually succeed.