Author Topic: Culture: Sheffield vs Swindon  (Read 1093 times)

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Offline PenhillLad

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Culture: Sheffield vs Swindon
« on: January 18, 2009, 01:20:17 PM »

'Exploring Swindon's Culture - An Open Conversation' - About this forum

Nationally speaking, Swindon is often mentioned because it is the butt of a joke.

The town itself is largely perceived as being a bland and relic of 1960's concrete architecture, and thanks to programmes like Ricky Gervaises' 'The Office' the towns image is further reduced to a sadly comedic status in the eyes of many, a sea of warehouses and computer firms staffed exclusively by plodding, dull people.

Plans are well underway to regenerate the town centre and, after a recent fact-finding visit to the already-regenerated City of Sheffield, Rod Bluh said he wanted Swindon to become, 'The Sheffield of the south'.

That seems to take care of the fabric of the town centre for the next 20 years, but what of culture? Does Swindon have a 'cultural' identity and, if it does, how well is it faring?  Who nourishes it, looks after it, renews it year on year and cherishes it?

The Swindon Cultural Partnership has something to say on the subject, and the website of Swindon Borough Council displays a fairly large wad ofcultural information, but I suspect both organisations have merely scratched the surface of mainstream  'marketable' culture in Swindon.  This isn't necessarily a criticism of either organisation, just an honest recognition on my part that it is in the interests of the Council and it's strategic partners to promote Swindon and make it appealing to as broad an audience as possible including inward business, (sometimes overseas), investment.  This worries me slightly in case 'political correctness' is invoked by a borough-wide business plan, which leads to culture being officially moderated and modified to suit a business and politically oriented agenda. This would, in my humble opinion, be cultural censorship, and be a very bad thing for Swindon, or any other community. 

As more public realm improvements are made within the Borough, business support and town centre management are increasingly seen as essential to boosting the town centre and attracting inward investment. It seems everyone involved in this becomes a 'strategic partner' this, or 'key stakeholder' that and almost everything to do with anything is expressed in mind boggling management speak.  This also worries me because I feel attempting to 'manage' or engineer culture along business lines might reduce it to the level of Downtown Disney.

I worry also that at some future point, SBC and the Swindon Cultural Partnership will begin seeing themselves as cultural moderators, and begin deciding what is culturally profitable, (and therefore acceptable), and what isn't.  I could be completely wrong on this, so I invite comments and discussion from all sides.

To be frank, I know I possess a healthy amount of scepticism for 'cultural initiatives' which are politically driven and I do recognise that I am less sceptical where a 'hands off' support is offered fairly by councils and their strategic partners.  I am not sure whether the Swindon Cultural Partnership falls into the former or latter bracket, so I again welcome comments.

This leads me to the purpose of the 'Exploring Swindon's Culture - An Open Conversation' forum.  It is exactly what it says on the tin.  I have looked around the borough, (in a virtual sense), and I can't find anywhere else as suitable, or as easy to access, as Talkswindon for a decent and open conversation on culture to occur.

I am sure there are many cultural gems in and around Swindon which are almost unknown. Similarly, I expect there are individuals and groups in the borough who don't appear on any official list or publication, don't appear in the limelight, but who are still integral parts of the overall cultural weave.  We would love to hear from as many of them as possible.....

...and perhaps then we can get a good idea of the width and depth of Swindon's cultural tapestry, what condition it is in and how it has been treated. 

I fear that if too many 'mainstream' cultural threads are tugged on to satisfy specific corporate goals, or 'cultural solutions' are engineered to fill marketing niches, the rest of the weave may be weakened, marginalised and begin to unravel....

I would therefore like to encourage an open conversation between as many interested people as possible.  This is potentially a first in Swindon's cultural history, because it not only enables group and individual discussions to occur simultaneously, but enables the cultural community to become truly aware of its own size and interconnectedness.

Please discuss, and share with others who may be interested  :)

In the meantime, I invite the creators, sponsors, patrons, users and lovers of all things cultural to promote* themselves, discuss themselves and discuss each other in this forum.

Contributors will need to register for a Talkswindon membership, this is completely free and takes just a few seconds to complete. (please register using an email account you can access easily because you will be sent an activation email immediately upon registering - check your span folder if the email is not received in 60 seconds)

*Talkswindon is regularly indexed by all the major search engines and has an excellent calendar function for advertising events etc. 

Our preference is for cultural localism and purely commercial concerns are therefore politely asked not to advertise.

Lol I have been to Sheffield many times and it is a deprived pit of a city. Full of vagrants and scum. Like our town really.

Just look how this United Kingdom has become, Within the council estates where we'll fight over crumbs,  We got young single parent mums, Having th