Sitting on the Western Lawn slopes, listening to Tosca with the beach for a backdrop and after an afternoon of watching Venus Williams play at Devonshire Park, I considered myself extremely lucky to be a resident of Eastbourne.
This thought quickly dispersed as one of sad frustration as I associated anything so wonderful happening in our town with the ‘WAMs’ (What About Me? brigade).
No doubt much will be said about the lack of publicity concerning the only UK screening of Tosca and I’ll leave that complex issue to others to discuss.
I’d rather consider the attitude of people towards the ‘bigger picture’ of what this sort of event signifies and the crisis of cultural opportunity which seems to be facing Eastbourne.
Eastbourne seems poised with potential in all sorts of ways at the moment.
These opportunities could enable the town to seriously raise its bar, even enabling it to become a cultural capital of Southern England.
We already have a mecca of first-rate shows, exciting events and state of the art exhibitions.
The whole Devonshire Park Complex is under review and could possibly become a state-of-the art centre for cultural excellence. However, if the WAMs get their way, it’s also possible that Eastbourne will carry on becoming yet another dead seaside town with drunks on every corner and a pier that’s associated with its nightclub revellers screaming the odds into the wee small hours, rather than as an example of fine architecture recognised by English Heritage.
Who will have the loudest voice? Those who celebrate Eastbourne becoming synonymous with film-making or those who complain about road closures when filming is taking place on our beautiful unspoilt promenade?
The hairdresser who wants to cut hair for charity at ‘Hairbourne’ or the shop-owner who complains about lack of footfall due to Airbourne?
The hotelier who embraces the fact that Eastbourne is associated with culture as well as easy access for a mobile scooter, or the proprietor who questions how many overnight guests an event will bring?
There are always problems with staging an event, as anyone who has ever tried to organise one knows only too well.
Instead of picking fault and voicing ways of how it could have done it better,
I, for one, would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to those unsung heroes in the tourism department of our local council who organised ‘Tosca’ as part of Viva Europa on our behalf.
At least they tried to raise Eastbourne to a new level and I for one appreciate it.
Viva Europa was an exciting event to be involved in - let’s hope that Viva Eastbourne will become the same!