Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Hastings at odds with William Hill

Bookmakers William Hill have placed the Hastings city of culture bid as a 25 to 1 outsider to win the prize.
Jeremy Birch in the Jack in the Green parade

One might ask what does William Hill know about culture; I doubt they have read our bid or know much about what goes on in our community. On the other hand it might be very good odds come November if we were to be named the winner. This year’s Grand National winner was originally quoted at 66 to 1 by William Hill.

I’m sure the other city of culture bidders who have been given closer odds to win have very good bids but I think ours will take some beating.

The weekend these odds appeared was the Jack in the Green Festival. Up to 20,000 people watched with around 10, 000 enjoying the finale on the West Hill, which overlooks our harbour and historic fishing fleet, the largest beach-launched fleet in Europe. The same day we entertained 30,000 bikers.

What town in the world could rival that mixture?

Festivals and street processions are an essential part of the culture of our community. We've got Bonfire Night, which we celebrate to mark Hastings Day in October, with over a thousand burning torches being paraded through the streets by various local groups, all in their own distinctive costumes, to rhythmic drumming; that can attract 30,000 spectators too.

We hold our Seafood and Wine Festival in September, showcasing our local produce and the Herring Fair in November.

Quality visual and performing arts are represented by the Jerwood Gallery with its nationally renowned 20th and 21st century collection and De La Warr Pavilion. And with work about to start on rebuilding our pier we will have our traditional seaside icon ready to open well before 2017.

Our bid has plans for a series of spectacular events in 2017 as city of culture. The English language and culture could be said to have begun in 1066. It all began in Hastings and in 2017 a cultural renaissance can begin again here.