From the Archives: Worthing Arts Manifesto

Going back through the Revolutionary Arts archives, we sometimes find a forgotten gem. Here’s something we wrote to place the arts, heritage and creative industries at the heart of Worthing:

A Manifesto for the Arts in Worthing

Written by Dan Thompson

Published by the Revolutionary Arts Group

Introduction

In October 2000, the Revolutionary Arts Group was formed around a manifesto, with which a dozen artist, makers, writers and musicians pledged:

We are committed to promoting the practice and understanding of the contemporary arts.

This includes the visual arts: painting, printing and photography: performing arts: theatre, dance and performance: and other practices. It includes work in and outside of traditional arts venues.

We believe art to be: A vital part of the personal experience: An important means of individual expression: A tool to build a better person and a better society: Empowering: Forceful: Available to all.”

Nine years later, the Revolutionary Arts Group have consistently shown our commitment to the arts in Worthing while we have developed a national reputation and projects which are now informing the government’s own agenda.

As an act of remembrance of that first manifesto, and to mark our commitment to the local while working wider, we launch this new Manifesto for the Arts in Worthing.

The most successful economies of the 21st Century will be creative ones. We need to face up to that challenge across all elements of society.” Chris Smith. Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport. 2001

We need to promote the practice of the contemporary arts and creative industries – the thinking, making, doing and sharing of the arts – by enabling creative people access to spaces across the town. This is vital to the economic success of Worthing.

We also need to promote the understanding, helping people to understand not just individual contemporary artworks but the place of the arts and creative industries in Worthing’s history, current economy and future.

To this end:

Artists should immediately be given free, privileged access to the council’s arts spaces, including Worthing Theatres, Field Place, The Museum & Art Gallery and the Town Hall; at every opportunity, these should be spaces for artists to play, explore new ideas, test concepts and create new work. If they are empty, even for one day, give artists the keys without giving them the bill.

Artists should also be encouraged to identify opportunity, and supported in the temporary and meanwhile use of other spaces – empty shops and old offices. The council should pledge its support to the meanwhile use of empty spaces, and should use its strength to navigate the legal backwaters of temporary leases and licences, business rates and insurance.

There should be spaces in parks, gardens and on the beach given to the arts, with the creation of portable stages, contemporary kiosks and mobile market stalls.

The social structure of Worthing arts and creative industries, which will lead to collaborations, fresh ideas and future growth, should be supported; Worthing Borough Council should provide office space and administrative support to Worthing Arts Council.

And in the long term, the council should give more of its buildings and spaces to the support the creative economy.

The Town Hall should be cleared of bureaucrats, who would be better accommodated in contemporary office spaces in Durrington; and the town hall should become a series of linked workspaces, studios, offices for social enterprise, rehearsal rooms, recording studios, galleries, performance spaces and small business units at the heart of a civic cultural quarter including the Assembly Hall, Worthing Library and Worthing Museum & Art Gallery. All these buildings should be given to the citizens, to manage through community trusts.

Similar community trusts should own high street space, which should be devoted to temporary exhibitions, exciting events and changing displays to enhance the town centre shopping experience and support the emergence of new businesses.

In addition, developers should give a percentage of any new build to the creation of workshops, studios and live-work spaces to be owned and managed by community trusts so that rents are kept low, and affordable. This will support creative businesses as they start up, explore new areas or develop work which has a community benefit. This will create vibrant, mixed-use neighbourhoods where people live, work and shop locally.

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