Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Famously cultural

A couple of years ago BBC’s Newsnight ‘adopted’ our seafront roundabout with the fountain as its centre piece. It was a stunt to demonstrate if the big society could takeover and run council functions. I had to ceremonially hand them the ‘key to the roundabout’ – thought quite what they were going to unlock I don’t know.

But that roundabout is in a very high profile position on the seafront between old and new towns. What a fantastic location for something really special. And that’s what Hastings is going to get.

Thanks to the very substantial generosity of the Fairlight Arts Trust set up by David and Sarah Kowitz a major new piece of public art is to be created in the middle of the roundabout. Two internationally renowned artists have been shortlisted and their designs will now be going on public display so we can all think about what is on offer. Then one of the designs will become the chosen art feature. The council will make sure the appearance of the roundabout itself is appropriate to welcome the art feature. I expect national interest in this major art installation and once more our town will be centre stage.

Just think – a year ago the Jerwood Gallery opened also helping to put us very much on the national cultural map. The gallery’s exhibition has just been totally refreshed with other paintings from Jerwood’s permanent collection. And I hope everyone has voted for the gallery to host the Museums at Night an event with Turner Prize nominees the Hastings born and bred Jake and Dinos Chapman.

Back in time a little further about two and half years ago – the town again hit the national headline as fire engulfed our Victorian Pier. Now with the success of the bid to Heritage Lottery and the council’s bid for Coastal Communities money, the Pier Trust is almost at the point of setting the start date for work to restore the Pier.

So Jerwood and the cultural and historic Stade, the Pelham roundabout with an international quality art feature and then on to a restored Pier – that will be some promenade. Won’t people outside the town be talking about Hastings?