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Concentrating mind to make things happen

PUBLISHED: 14:30 17 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:32 05 July 2010

BOLD hopes of launching a government funded initiative in Waveney, to offer classical music opportunities for youngsters, has sadly failed at the final hurdle.

BOLD hopes of launching a government funded initiative in Waveney, to offer classical music opportunities for youngsters, has sadly failed at the final hurdle. But the lessons learnt from the tireless exercise are now planned to be put to great use as ANDREW KITCHEN, the district council's arts and heritage service manager, reports.

VARIETY is undoubtedly the spice of life and as I have certainly tackled a diverse range of subjects in recent fortnightly columns, I'd like to seize a moment to update and reveal developments.

But first I'd like to thank people for direct responses to my arts and heritage musings in The Journal throughout the year.

Reactions have been strangely slow in forthcoming - I have at times deliberately provoked to check people are reading me. But responses are growing and most of them are more positive than negative.

Perhaps heritage, and particularly the arts, are not apparently on everyone's agenda. But that's a great misunderstanding when both arenas affect everyone, every day - improving the quality of the ways we live, creating things to do, places to go and indeed appreciating where we live are all pretty crucial to everyone.

Very recently we have boldly tried to apply for an astonishingly well-funded scheme offering classical music opportunities for young children. A national government initiative seeking pilot towns for a three-year project was announced last month - with a closing date for the In Harmony project set as today.

Initially leading, regional music-education organisations and I were very keen to bid. But, as they say, the devil is in the detail and despite our great hopes and best intentions, it soon became clear that for this particular bid to succeed locally we needed much longer than a few weeks to co-ordinate a scheme. It was always an “outside chance” but try as we might we could not meet the bid criteria in the timeframe. The vital ground-work, local personnel expertise, community understanding and indeed facilities could not match the very specific and detailed demands of this project just yet. Developing community projects always takes time.

Obviously, if disappointingly, passion and enthusiasm were not enough but the energies and interest aroused have revealed needs, desires and indeed collective wisdom to improve music education opportunities locally - a learning tool which actually, and perhaps surprisingly, provides many vital spin-offs. And that energy will now be turned into action - the bid concentrated minds. So now we can tailor-make a scheme for this area, offering wider involvement than the In Harmony project and hopefully bettering an alternative collaborative venture previously being devised. If you are even remotely interested in music education and opportunities - supplying, desiring, teaching, funding, knowledgeable - I urge you to make contact. I intend to bring many minds together to make something happen.

And talking of bringing people together, my recent criticism of local arts and heritage marketing healthily prompted requests for training and greater understanding. So I have talked with successful regional expert practitioners and plans are afoot to provide such opportunities - details to be announced soon for an introductory event early in the new year, with more detailed training to follow. These will be devised to be of use across the sectors - arts-marketing is big business and techniques are entirely applicable to the heritage world too. And training will suit both professionals and voluntary organisations alike - supporting the vital and considerable local creative and cultural economy.

Celebrating the success, quantity and quality of all of Waveney's professional and voluntary arts and heritage activity was the main purpose of the Waveney Revels last April. Over 160 events were held and an estimated 17,000 people attended or participated in events - not a bad start for a new tradition. So, despite the current confusion over the future of Waveney under the ongoing local government review - the Revels are set to roll out again next spring. Further details will be revealed on October 31 - ever-more ideas are welcomed now - and if you or an organisation is keen to Revel, get in touch as soon as possible. Any chance to bang your own drum and promote your skills and cause needs to be keenly seized.

Similarly plans for a Waveney Heritage Forum slowly evolve - albeit, again, slightly stalled by the future of Waveney, not least with choosing an accurate name. But there is now a list of over 70 varied notable heritage organisations and involved individuals - an impressive number in a small geographic area. This idea, like many of the best, is distilling and improving with age but heritage-marketing training opportunities will be a sign of action, not just a talking-shop.

Contact Andrew Kitchen by email at arts&heritage@waveney.gov.uk or write Town Hall, High Street, Lowestoft, NR32 1HS.

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