LETTER: How much real regeneration?

Annemarie Field’s ‘article’ on the Devonshire Ward creative hub [September 30] looked like a barely re-hashed press release. The ‘green light’ on this project was given months ago when Ms Harmer Brown was awarded £85,000 (under the auspices of her company B&R Productions Ltd) by Eastbourne Council to set it up. The project was not put out to tender and, thus, no other bids were invited. It seems to have been kept well under wraps up to now in terms of the general community being informed, which is puzzling as it is meant to be inclusive and community based.

It certainly will be managed but whether it spearheads anything is debatable. Anyone with even a basic grasp of regeneration knows that artists (I use the term loosely to include people working in a variety of media) are attracted to run down areas because they can live and work very cheaply (artists being amongst the most poorly paid in society). Space is generally very low cost or free and there is an energy and freedom to do new and experimental things (Hastings, Margate for example) because there is a lack of interference or management. And the area itself has to be inspiring (or, if you prefer ‘edgy’), which Eastbourne is not.

This is not a process that can be stage managed and it is certainly not very quick (see, Brixton and other areas of inner London, Hebden Bridge etc) but once it takes off the artists and anyone on a low income are pushed out.

Whether anyone not already established will be able to afford to use these facilities because (and I quote Eastbourne Borough Council’s Martin Jones from a conversation I had with him) “this project will have to wash its own face” will determine just how much real regeneration and change takes place.

Anna Arnone

Mayfield Place

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