Sunday, 16 August 2009

Cultural Quarter? Cultural ghetto....

Apologies for not having blogged for a while (he says euphemistically!) but life has been getting in the way of late....

In my time away from this blog I have made two trips up to Lincoln - my county town. I knew it had a 'masterplan', but little idea that it involved the creation of a 'Cultural Quarter'. I find I really hate such designations...all it does, in effect is to create a cultural ghetto, perhaps planners and the City fathers of Lincoln believe that artists should be corralled away somewhere safe, where an ever watchful eye can be kept on them? Not that I believe that artists are in anyway as 'subversive' as the avant garde, or liberal intelligentsia, would have us believe, or wish they were....
Still it seems to be to just another case of all that loopy post-war planning that did so much untold damage to our historical cities....shopping here, working there, sleeping somewhere else. It is merely the same old stuff dressed up in fashionable planning talk....if the arts are to mean anything in being the leaven in the lives of the inhabitants of Lincoln, or any other city, museums etc have to be spread throughout the whole. Public sculpture, for instance, and especially that of an official nature, should be placed everywhere in the city. Institutions too. For it is through them that civil society is created and maintained. To create a 'cultural quarter' is to impose a form of segregation upon the city, to create an area that is tourist destination in a world view that sees and cultural 'product' simply as that - product, something to be merely consumed like something on a shelf in a shop, not something that conveys higher meaning, or even spiritual value for those who use art as a god substitute.
I remember standing at the end of Danes Terrace and looking down Danesgate past both The Collection and the far more lovely Usher Gallery and not seeing a soul, the place was dead...not vibrant, not living, just a quiet English provincial town. Dead.
Reading Lincoln City council material on the web I see that the Library and Drill Hall are also part of the 'Cultural Quarter' even though there is no visual link between them and the Danes Terrace area, and therefore no direct pedestrian route. This is ludicrous. They are two separate quarters not one. Apart from the general vacuity of 'The Collection' - the building is what it's about, not the contents, the move up hill has left the old museum empty - what a waste. This is no way to re-construct a city.

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