What struck me when I moved back to my home town of Beeston 5 years ago after a 17-year absence (most of which was spent in Crouch End, North London) is just how many creative people reside here. Musicians of all genres; rap, blues, R&B, jazz, folk, classical and more, plus a plethora of poets, writers, film makers, graphic designers, photographers, dancers, actors, presenters, painters, sculptors, crafters etc. I was bumping into creatives wherever I went, including BAFTA winning director Shane Meadows every morning on the school run! It felt very much like Camden but without the obvious physical vibrancy, which is what prompted me to start the Beeston Street Art project; to visibly represent the abundant creativity of our town. During the festival in 2018 I was even told that people have long referred to this area as Boho Beeston (as in bohemian) - who knew?
I foresee this creative identity will continue to grow in the coming decades. The current explosion of development in the vicinity will bring thousands more residents here all looking for entertainment and the new Cinema, alongside all the excellent existing venues, festivals, gigs, pubs, cocktail bars, restaurants and one-off events from Bartons to Broadgate will flourish.
The government recently commissioned a study spearheaded by retail guru Mary Portas about how we can revive high streets in this era of evolving shopping needs and methods - art attractions and events were found to be the number one way to keep commercial property open and profitable. Another study by the University of Warwick found that areas of cultural vibrancy were the most desirable for residents too, with people wanting to be part of the fashionable scenes in Shoreditch, Bristol, Cheltenham, Aberdeen and other areas that have recently embraced both street art and other emerging cultural trends.
This, I believe is also our valuable USP [Unique Selling Point]; our creativity will continue to bring in visitors from far and wide, enabling our high street to thrive. So, let’s celebrate all those who contribute their talents and enthusiasm, putting Boho Beeston on the national and even international artistic map.
Jeanie Barton singer/songwriter.
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