Keith’s Column: Vision On
Tuesday, 28th October 2014
Me and my staffies were enjoying the sunshine in the park last week, casually chatting to most people we met when one conversation strayed to an old Moseley favourite … the Ent. Was I in favour?
This time round the idea may be to site the Ent in the Park. Now surely that would be a great result. Just in case all this is unfamiliar to you, a previous scheme to erect a large sculpture of Tolkien’s tree creature in the Village centre had failed to get off the ground.
Last year I had some discussions with the Park about the fabulous Yorkshire Sculpture Park and I tried to present the case that the Park is one of the few community assets that could really be leveraged, without compromising its founding principles, to deliver a really powerful offer to tourists. I was suggesting the Park had a duty to punch above its weight and do something that would help the whole community.
If the Park offered an exhibition of permanent and “touring” sculptures, it would pull large numbers of day time visitors into Moseley and move us towards our vision.
Vision? What vision I hear readers wondering?
The latest version of Moseley’s Supplementary Planning Document offers us a really compelling vision for Moseley in its opening paragraph. Moseley aims to be a … “creative and enterprising urban neighbourhood that makes a distinctive contribution to the city’s economic and cultural life”.
So clearly a project like the Ent deserves all our support and the only debate needs to be about the details of how we execute such a brilliant idea. Whether it’s on the Green or in the Park, it would help take us towards our stated vision.
Moseley needs projects like the Ent and ambitions like the Sculpture Park if we are to maintain Moseley’s cultural tradition. Our cultural DNA is depleted. The cultural assets we can use to attract visitors, shoppers, investors and employers are mainly historic. The cultural heart of the city is not on our doorstep and over the last 10 years we have failed to capitalise on all the investment the city has made in developing a world class tourism destination. Moseley could have been a contender for the city’s “Bohemian Quarter” but we have let the opportunity slip by.
Take music for example. Yes we now have the festivals in the Park but we have lost so much. Lucky locals can remember fondly watching Oasis at The Jug, or Morrisey at The Cocks but we all know that was years ago. Now instead of great music every week, we are reduced to a twice yearly Summertime fix courtesy of the Jazz and the Folk.
If we really believe in our vision and we want to make it happen over the next 10 to 20 years, then we seriously need to strengthen the cultural gene pool.