A guest blog from exhibiting photographer and key volunteer Stuart Runham.
“I had been meaning to get along to a Creative Bedfordshire networking meeting for some time but always had something more important to do though managed to make some time to attend the January meeting on a cold Thursday evening. I wasn’t sure entirely what to expect or what real networking opportunities their would be. I was lucky that I made time. At this meeting were two Mums, Erica and Kayte who had a vision they wanted to share. It was an inspiring idea – make use of empty shops to brighten up Bedford and showcase the wonderful creative talent that exists in the area. They had actually done most of the hard work already – they had taken the idea and spoken to the right people to get both some initial limited funding and some support from the Borough Council, so they had a venue and a date, now they just needed some help to make it happen. Their enthusiasm was catching so I instantly found myself volunteering, both as a photographer who might contribute from the creative side and as a ‘warm body’ who might be able to contribute to the organisation and set-up of the event.
A planning meeting followed to formalise what needed to be done and it was clear that there was a lot of pent up desire within a lot of people to do something like this, it had just needed Kayte and Erica to bring it out of people. The next public meeting was incredibly well attended and there has been no shortage of people wanting to get involved and volunteer, and it must be stated everyone is doing this on a voluntary basis – now a seemingly very short time later, though with a lot of work, especially the boring stuff like licences, insurance and health and safety, and painting and organizing, the programmes have been printed and the event is looming large. There is already something of a buzz about the town and more people who want to be involved than can be accommodated, hopefully this will show people how Castle Quay should look.
As a photographer I have had a chance to meet some amazingly creative people, I have a piece in the gallery space and have been creating a photo diary of the event – from the empty units to the crowds that I’m sure will turn up on the weekend. I’m sure that this is just the start for ‘We Are Bedford’ so watch this space.”
Stuart Runham runs his photography practice, Aetheral Visions from Bedford