Friday, February 16, 2007

Portsmouth: World Centre of Urban Culture

I'm reading an interesting book on cultural development at the moment, by Charles Landry, called The Creative City. In the first few pages Landry hypothesises that "...every city could be a world centre for something if it was persistent and tried hard enough."

This got me thinking. What could Portsmouth be a world centre for? What distinguishes our city from others? I know that there is an instant temptation to make jokes about this, which I can fully understand, but seriously? Is Landry right, and is Portsmouth missing a trick (you can't really count our half-hearted 'The Waterfront City' - I know we're an island but we can't lay claim to to every coastline on the planet).

So far, I've only come up with two options:

Portsmouth: World Centre for Maritime Industrial Culture - not exactly catchy is it?

Portsmouth: World Centre for Industrialized Urban Deprivation - this is not that appealing and would also make our initials WC-IUD, which isn't a great impression either.

Is this too much like marketing? Can I see nothing singularly positive about our city? Does this say more about me than about Portsmouth? Stay tuned for answers to these life puzzles and more....

As far as I can see, local economies are becoming more and more dependent on creative industries, of which tourism is one, whilst the funding to the same decreases (- certainly via local authorities anyway, according to a report late last year from John Holden at Demos). This leaves leisure and cultural services - like museums, arts, archives, libraries and tourism - in a rather strange pickle.

Many local authorities up and down the country are getting themselves involved with the state equivalent of loan sharks, PFI deals, are putting their services into trust (not in itself necessarily a bad option, but not necessarily a good one either if purely financially motivated) or closing them down completely. Moreover, because of the different ways in which local authorities are organised up and down the country, it is not easy for these services to come together en masse and raise awareness amongst the public, either.

As ever, love to hear your thoughts. But that's enough politics for one day. Here's the ever brilliant, ever beautiful Imogen Heap with Hide and Seek.

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