A couple of years ago I became aware of a new idea called ‘Music Cities’, which was being investigated and used in Canada, USA and Australia.
The idea behind Music Cities is to use music as a tool for local regeneration, amongst other things. To enable this idea to happen a partnership needs to be created between the local musical community and local Government/Council.
Last year a report was published by IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) and Music Canada titled 'The Mastering of a Music City' which set out a blueprint for how a city, anywhere in the world, could aim to achieve this. It contained examples of cities that had followed this route successfully, such as Toronto, Melbourne, Nashville and Kuala Lumpur, to name a few.
You can read and download that report here: Mastering of a Music City
After reading this report I realised that this idea was something that could, potentially, work very well in Hastings. We ‘ticked’ all the boxes in the report and certainly have the thriving local music scene needed to help with this, even though Hastings is ‘just’ a town.
I immediately shared the report, and my enthusiasm for it, with Adam Daly and Bob Tipler from Hastings Fat Tuesday. As you may already know, The Stinger magazine is a part of the wider Hastings Fat Tuesday group and we’ve had many discussions over recent years around just this topic.
As you can imagine, they saw the potential straight away as well and more discussion followed as to how we could make this Music Cities idea work for Hastings.
At the beginning of this year I contacted Polly Gifford, the Strategic Cultural Development Specialist at Hastings Borough Council and also the Director of the current ROOT 1066 celebrations, to explain our ideas, the Music Cities concept itself, and to see whether HBC would be interested in pursuing it.
The reaction and support from both Polly and HBC in general has been very positive and we have had several meetings and discussions over the intervening period.
How we take this idea forward and develop it into something more tangible is where we are at now.
We recently became aware of a new scheme called the ‘Great Place Scheme’, which seems to offer a perfect opportunity to do this, provided our application is successful.
The Great Place Scheme is a new funding strand announced by Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Foundation and Historic England. It aims to support places to put Arts, Culture and Heritage at the heart of the future vision for their area.
What will the Great Place scheme do?
The Great Place Scheme will invest in 12 places across the country to achieve the following:
Build on existing strengths within the local Arts, Culture and Heritage sectors in order to maximise their positive cultural, social and economic contribution.
Build new partnerships to realise this contribution and lever resources into the sector to support that.
Develop these partnerships so that the contribution of the sector is recognised in and supported by long term plans and strategies for the area.
The application process has one round only, with an Expression of Interest (EOI) needed before completing a full application.
Deadline for EOI is 6 October 2016
I’ll let Polly explain a bit more, from HBC’s side, as to what we’re actually doing.
“Why a Hastings & Rother bid?:
A joint bid from Hastings & Rother will be a direct continuation of the narrative and partnerships that began with the City of Culture bid and developed through ROOT 1066. It also sits within the wider partnership between the two authorities and in particular the priority in the Hastings & Rother Six Point Plan relating to cultural regeneration.
The scheme wants to fund ‘projects in areas where there is already a strong local partnership approach and a commitment to embed Arts, Culture and Heritage as a core part of local plans, policies and strategies.’ We believe Hastings & Rother can make a very strong case for supporting and developing culture as a key element of place-making and that we are in a stronger place than ever to make the most of the opportunity.
The proposal is for a bid with Hastings Borough Council as the lead partner but very much developed and delivered by a wide consortium of partners (including the local musical community).
Why a music focus?:
The two strongest art form areas in Hastings and Rother are visual arts and music, from the number and quality of individual artists and musicians through to nationally recognised venues and cultural organisations.
There has been a lot of development around visual arts over the past few years which has brought huge benefit to the area and done much to change the perceptions of the area externally.
This now feels like the right time to diversify our focus and to work more strategically with the music sector in the area.
This builds on several months of discussions instigated from within the music sector itself through a response to the Mastering of a Music City report. The report outlines how better partnership working across all levels – from grassroots musicians, to venues, to local authorities – can enable the music sector to grow and develop and contribute more effectively to the regeneration of a place.
These discussions have been led by Andy Gunton of The Stinger, and when the Great Place Scheme was announced it was the perfect vehicle to take some of these ideas forward.
Work so far:
The idea has strong support from key partners in both Hastings and Rother including Hastings Fat Tuesday, De La Warr Pavilion, Jerwood Gallery, Hastings Pier and St Mary in the Castle. It also has the support of both Hastings and Rother Councils and East Sussex County Council, and from the Hastings and Rother Cultural Leaders Group.
We are establishing a small steering group to guide the next stage of the process. The Expression of Interest is very brief and needs to make the case of ‘why here’ rather than outlining any details of the potential programme.
If we get through the first round, there will be a much wider consultation in order to develop the full bid.”
We all feel that Hastings is very well placed to apply for Great Place status, and are very excited by the prospect of what this would give us.
If successful this would enable us to take forward many of those ideas contained within the ‘Mastering of a Music City' report, and much more besides.
We hope you like the sound of these ideas as much as we do?
We’ll keep you posted on future developments.