Thameside: Truth or lies?
Jul 7, 2021
Cllr Rob Gledhill said 'Central to the future of Grays is the re-provision of a new, modern and fit for purpose theatre.'
Cllr Deb Huelin said we can move forward with a community theatre using existing amenities across the borough.
What is the truth?
The Thameside Complex in Grays is in the councils cross-hairs. They are targeting the complex for closure and disposal. The many essential businesses working out of the complex, as well as the library, the museum and the theatre are seeing the red dot of the Tory sniper riffle.
Is the building in need of a refurb?
Does the council pay a considerable annual subsidy to it?
Is it fit for purpose?
In its current guise probably not.
When you consider these questions, you may sympathise with the council.
Do the arts in Thurrock contribute to the Borough's economy?
Do the arts create employment in the Borough?
Are the arts vital to well-being?
Are the arts and culture supported and promoted enough in Thurrock?
Hmmm. Now the council look like a panto villain. Boo, hiss.
Folkstone has 74 art installations in which is the UKs largest urban outdoor exhibition of contemporary art. Artists such as Antony Gormley, Bill Woodrow and Amalia Pica are represented through their work. It brings thousands of tourists to the town and an awful lot of cash to the local economy. We can do this and more.
Dr Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said "An investment in culture is an investment in our highstreets. Theatres, libraries, museums and music venues are the beating hearts of communities. They're central to the social fabric and civic pride of towns across England. As well as events and performances for audiences of all ages, they provide a raft of local amenities from bookshops to bars, helping to bring our highstreets alive, providing jobs and boosting the local economy.'
As an example, the University of Cambridge Musuems attracted more than a million visitors with 48% combining their visit with dinner in a local restaurant and 31% with a local shop shopping trip. We might not aspire to a million visitors but however you scale it down the maths is in favour of the arts.
This borough is growing in terms of population, at an unprecedented rate. Thurrock deserves a brand-new sparkling theatre, much bigger than the one we have (more seats = more enticement for theatre companies, bigger shows and greater ticket sales) and a musem to be proud of. Oh, and don't forget the art gallery. They should come with education facilities and areas to do workshops.
Art and culture are vital to the well-being of a community and Thurrock council needs to wake up.