Why I'm backing the City of Culture bid: Ray White
Plymouth is bidding to be named UK City of Culture 2017. We are asking the people of the city to speak up to support the move. Today Ray White, curator of production company Effervescent, lends his support to the campaign.
Plymouth's aspiration to become City of Culture 2017 comes at a time of national economic uncertainty, and a wholesale questioning of the value of culture in public life. Yet the arts come into their own during periods of austerity, driving tourism, giving enjoyment and employment to thousands, offering a vision of the way things could be, and asking where we place ourselves in the reality of our own lives.
The city's decision to commit to a focused three-year development of infrastructure and support for arts organisations is a brave and clear-sighted one. As a citizen of Newcastle upon Tyne during its own cultural regeneration some ten years ago, I saw and felt first-hand the massive benefits to the economy and society at large that came with that city's reinvention from a declining industrial hub to what it is now - a thriving, nationally admired cultural venue and holiday destination.
Supporting the already well-established arts organisations in the city is a given. Nurturing smaller and emerging organisations, encouraging collaboration, and enabling more of our arts graduates to stay and work will be the key. In this way, a joined-up cultural offer will become more than the sum of its parts, allowing us to not just "punch above our weight", but to be a real contender.
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