In a weekend which saw the demise of the Spalding Flower Parade, at least in its current form, it was somewhat bittersweet to be present at the launch of a new initiative for the region. Transported is the ‘Creative People and Places’ programme for the residents of Boston and South Holland, designed to encourage participation in arts activities.
Backed by a £2.6m Arts Council funding, the vision, over the next few years, is to ‘inspire creative journeys’. In the short term 24 specially commissioned artists will bring art to local communities and the iconic ‘arts van’ – a converted ice cream van- will bring creative treats to towns, villages, youth clubs or factory canteens.
The launch in Holbeach last Sunday provided a glimpse of what is to come, the highlight of the day being the luminarium ‘Miracoco’ by Architects of Air. A huge, inflatable sculpture was erected in our local park. Crowds flocked to go inside and be immersed in a sensory feast of colour, light, sound and touch: a surreal experience but unexpectedly relaxing.
Throughout the afternoon the residents of Holbeach were treated to a variety of experiences, all free of charge. Conedancers from The Dream Engine delighted visitors with an aerial display on an 8 metre high air-filled cone, stories and puppet shows were held in the arts van, ‘yarn bomber’ Carol Parker was at work encouraging people to have a go at knitting and urban artist James Mayle got busy with the spray cans to create bold images around the venue. Music and dance were provided by The Ukebox Ukelele Jukebox, Hip Hop Crew and Peterborough Polish choir, Cantus Polonicum.
Local school children were also involved. A junkband from the secondary school showed their talents in percussion using a variety of recycled containers while primary school children had made woollen pom poms which could be seen hanging from the trees in the park: a ‘blossom forest’
It was an inspiring afternoon, providing local residents with bursts of creativity not often seen in the town. Indeed, the town itself, which has suffered in the recession, was given a boost as artworks from local artists, such as Fiona Gurney’s mosaics, could be seen in shop windows in the days leading up to the event.
I’m hopeful this one sunny day in Holbeach will not just be a one-off experience for residents and that Transported will continue to stimulate the community in the following months and years. But I’m also pondering the fact that the Spalding Flower Parade will no longer be held due to lack of funding. Surely there is something to be learned here and, with some creative thinking, a well-loved historical spectacle can be retained alongside the development of new artistic ventures?