Artists in the City

Artists in the City: Unlock the wealth that lies within Wolverhampton citizens.

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How can we use people, and local assets to make Wolverhampton a better place?

We must be careful not to develop Wolverhampton as a Clone Town but encourage diversity and distinctiveness in our City centre. The recession has left Wolverhampton with some streets looking abandoned as most of the chain stores have collapsed and shops have shut-up. We should have a cap on the number of price point retailing like Poundland, betting and payday loan shops which are invading our town centre. I am aware that the existence and growing numbers of these shops are the result of the recession, nevertheless their sight is depressing and uninviting. In my opinion, those shops have a negatives effect on the City, its inhabitants and compromise future investments. The local business community needs to be engaging with the public sector and the voluntary sector if we want to create a better place to work and a better place to live. A positive impact on the town’s moral will boost motivation and pave the way to improving the economy. My suggestion is that Wolverhampton based artists should be associated in a scheme to create a positive feeling and enthuse Wufrunians and visitors. 1.ARTISTS IN THE CITY: Everybody agrees that Wolverhampton is full of creativity. We need to see our artists in the City. All resident artists should be united in a group (call it, for example The Artists Group). It will give them the opportunity to networking, developing ideas, etc. They could have a place in the City centre where they could meet, net-work, have Internet access, etc. The centre could be first run by a group of volunteer artists and non artist who are interested in developing the project. It could be an opportunity for people to share their experience and to develop the business acumen of each artist (business planning, gallery owners, mentoring, marketing, PR, webpage, new media, etc.). The Light House Media Centre could be the ideal setting for this centre, or a setting in the Learning Quarter.

a)A scheme could be created between local shops and the Artists Group. A business or shop chooses one or more artists from amongst the group and they work together to exhibit the work produced by the chosen artists for a specified period in their shop. b)Art should not be reserve for museums and art galleries. Local residents, business owners with suitable security could rent original creations selected from the Artists Group for a limited period of time. These special pieces could be on sale and allow anyone to “try” a piece of art at home before buying. It could create an income for the artist as well as promoting his/her works. Local residents could register in the scheme and pay a registration fee (eg: £50 for one year) which gives them the right to borrow 6 pieces at £ 15 per 2 months. Local businesses pay a higher registration fee (eg: £80 for one year) which gives them right to borrow 6 pieces at £ 20 per 2 months.

What is needed? A space, white walls, computers, desks, printer, chair, etc.

Cottage Industry According to the latest figures, Wolverhampton has the highest unemployment rate in the region and way above the national average. Other alarming figures showed that women were losing their jobs at a disproportionately greater rate than men and 1.12 million women in the UK are unemployed. In the New York Times (09/06/12) in an article entitled “The crowds that shun the mass market”, the journalist Anita Patil described how more and more consumers are rejecting the high-volume goods of the mass market, and instead turning towards craft and speciality niche businesses. She also pointed out that people want to support more and more local, small, independent businesses which make them feel good. Wolverhampton must encourage and support creativity and employment through cottage industry by supporting local residents, particularly woman, who want to create their own jobs. A scheme could be created where potential entrepreneurs could meet with volunteers or professionals who have retired and can offer their expertise in different domains (accountancy, tax, health and safety, copyright, etc.). It could be an opportunity to create a mentoring scheme where knowledge and experience is shared. Wolverhampton City offers and develops skill development training (WAES/W’ton City College). A Cottage Industries festival is created in Wolverhampton for a weekend to attract people from all over the country. People could exhibit and sell their products as well as their savoir faire; networking and sharing their experience, tips and knowledge. What is needed is a space in Wolverhampton centre where people can meet, collaborate and have access to computers, printers, information, meeting room, etc. This space could also be used to exhibit the products and services. This scheme will also fit the sustainability charter of Wolverhampton City Council.