So much has been happening, and so fast. We want to keep a note of the things we are learning as we go.
We have decided to run a weekend in March called the Castle Quay Weekender.
We have secured the use of 7 empty units, 5 small and of assorted shapes and sizes, and 2 large glass lined restaurant units with riverside views. This is no mean feat and we have been surprised by how open both landlords, both the council and the developer, have been to letting us in. Our access to the units is subject to us arranging the insurance. Insurance is a small barrier to be overcome – we don’t formally exist as a group, we are simply a collection of individuals so arranging the formal side of things presents practical problems. We are also aware that it is a lot of ‘space to curate’, as our friend Kristian Purcell elegantly put it. The units are not finished, a couple have power, but most are simply shells. How we make these into arts venues we are yet to figure out. But we know we don’t need them to be polished sanitized spaces. Their beauty will come from their use.
We are small but there seems to be power in that. Things are happening, people are coming forward to help, take part, offer ideas and contacts. People with power are happy to meet with us. People are enthusiastic. Bedford Borough Council, local businesses such as Pensieri , talented graduates such as Kristina Bullen, local networks such as Creative Bedfordshire , others doing similar things in Luton in High Town Art for All with the help of the Meanwhile Space Project , Dave Hodgson our Mayor and of course the RSA have all offered support and encouragement (the latter sometimes being as valuable as the former).
We have talked about whether we should strive to become bigger, stronger, more formal, and, right now, the answer is no. We recognize that our role is simply to bring people together, people who are already doing and thinking wonderful things, and to act as some kind of conduit or catalyst. We are looking for ways to create opportunities for engagement and belonging, and the more formal we become the more barriers we may create. The more we talk about our ideas the more interesting people we meet, people who already make things happen; musicians, artists, storytellers. This has the potential to become a network of the best kind.
As we move forward and need to deal with more formal processes such as insurance and finance we may need to become something else, a charity, a community interest company, a social enterprise, but those are decisions can be made when they need to be. It is important that our form follows our function. And for now, our ramshackle home made fumbling attempts to make something happen have been working just fine.