The big news this week is that Plymouth is entering a bid to become UK City of Culture 2017, So I'm backing the bid. Not because I'm an artist, not because I expect personally to profit from it (which I don't) but because I actually dare to think that it could make a difference to the lives of the people of Plymouth and the local area.
Predictably the sniping from the sidelines has already started, notably in the comments section of The Plymouth Herald. It's an unfortunate fact of life in this country that apparently the only section of the community less open minded, tolerant and essentially blimpish than the editorials in a local paper are those that write to its editor or add comments to its web pages.Now there are probably many things that may reasonably be held against Plymouth as a city, its council as administrators and its infrastructure as a bit of a mess. But having a go at the place for aspiring to improve quality of life for its inhabitants, those that work there and visitors (yes, Plymouth does get tourists) is essentially self loathing writ large. Rant over, let's think positive.
So, what's a practical suggestion that will improve the quality of life for Plymothians and make life easier for commuters and visitors, bring a cultural benefit and improve infrastructure all in one go? Easy. A culture bus. I'm talking about a circular route that would take in all the major cultural venues in the city on one route. The Museum and Art Gallery, Peninsula Arts, Plymouth Arts Centre, The Barbican, The Theatre Royal, The Hoe, Plymouth Pavilions, KARST, Ocean Studios, Flameworks, Royal William Yard and all points in between. Now, for all I know, that route already exists in which case just rebrand whichever number it is and repaint the bus.
It would also be nice if there was some acknowledgement and recognition of the arts and cultural production beyond the confines of the city itself, say using the Gunnislake branch line and Tamar Valley AONB as a starting point to take Plymothians out into the wider landscape rather than treating the city's hinterland as simply a catchment area drawing people in.
Work in progress and other stuff that happens.