And so now that the initial shock of the firstsite funding situation has settled, what next for the Golden Goose?
Timing is everything.
It is unfortunate that the Arts Council decided to hold back the funding for two out of the next three years in the run up to a General Election campaign.
Events dear boy, events.
The politicisation of firstsite is now complete. It really shouldn’t be a major issue on the doorstep over the next few months.
The EVIL Bedroom Tax, the Colchester economy and general ECC interference are all far more worthy subjects.
Before the politicians get to use the Golden Goose as a manifesto filler, let’s first clear up all the confusion that has surrounded firstsite over the past few days.
Funding HASN’T been stopped. There is no ‘funding crisis.’
Instead a re-think has been called for.
firstsite was always going to receive £800,000 from the Arts Council for the next financial year. All that has happened is that this figure for the following two years has not been guaranteed.
The management has been told to shape up or ship out.
We think that this is a very good deal for Colchester.
What we don’t think does our town any favours is the way in which firstsite has now become a political football.
To be fair, this isn’t the first time…
Careful what you wish for, etc, but this whole funding situation started off in December with Conservative Cllr Will Quince’s motion to CBC.
We weren’t expecting the motion to be carried – we suspect that Will wasn’t either.
But somehow the LibDems were awoken from the back benches and agreed to tell the Arts Council that the official CBC policy is that firstsite is
shit not quite working for the residents of the town.
We like to think that democracy is alive and well when the LibDem Cllr’s hold a very different opinion to that of their LibDem MP.
It was probably the right move. Something had to be done to wake firstsite out of its artistic slumber. It was sleep walking to apathy.
And then we come to Sir Bob of Sunny Colch.
The MP for the town has never been a fan of firstsite.
You don’t say.
Sir Bob wasn’t backwards about coming forwards and doing the dirt on firstsite as soon as the Arts Council announcement was made.
He even proudly declared “I told you so” on BBC Look East.
Which indeed he has, at many times over the past decade or so.
Sir Bob has now published a statement over on his website.
“The Arts Council announcement is dire news. Where, now, are the cheerleaders who promoted the visual arts gallery as a beacon for economic common sense and a tourist attraction to bring people from all round the world to Colchester?”
…probably busy working out how firstsite can still work for the town, rather than turning the issue into a possible vote winner.
And as for the Comrades of the Colchester Labour Party?
This is AWKWARD for um, @Tim4Clacton.
The Colchester Labour Leader holds the Portfolio for Culture. He has an opinion on firstsite, but has to be guarded.
The Cabinet Member for Culture has to be seen to be supporting the arts in the town. His political opponents know this, and will do anything to try and make political capital out of the situation.
Meanwhile the frontline staff at firstsite must now be feeling slightly nervous as the politics of firstsite is played out around them.
Twelve months to shape up or ship out – although we did find it most odd that Director Matthew Rowe told BBC Look East that he can turn around the situation in “five years.”
FIVE CHUFFING YEARS.
There will be another General Election coming around by then.
Events dear boy. Events.