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Thursday, 22 July 2010

TARA’s Comments on the proposed BANES Cultural Strategy

In general we are concerned that this document does not discuss measures of effectiveness in any detail. It does not set measurable goals.

The document does not address how in practice the relationship between this and other key planning and control processes such as planning and licensing will be managed.

We are unclear why a focus upon the North East Somerset communities outside of Bath is a central aspect of the work of Tourism Leisure and Culture division.

The document cites “evidence” and “studies” but gives no references.

Where the document talks about rural and urban divides in cultural provision it seems to us simplistic and muddled; people choose urban and rural location to live and each has built in advantages and disadvantages. City centre residents have ready access to more cultural offers but also have to tolerate close proximity to noise and anti-social behaviour.

The document concatenates cost and access to public transport and rural and urban living. Cost is an issue that transcends the urban/rural split there are many people living in Bath who find cost a barrier to attending cultural events. The public transport issue is more likely to be addressed by providing better more affordable public transport to take people to Bath than using council resources to scatter cultural events across BANES.

The document addresses how to make culture available to disadvantaged people but rather than discussing how to give disadvantaged people better access to culture falls back on taking about taking cultural events to areas where they live thus immediately closing off other options.

The public sector has a fairly poor track record in forecasting social trends and market mechanisms are much better at addressing this. For instance this document forecasts that Box Offices will fall out of use however the selection of ticket purchasing channels is, if history is any guide, likely be much more complex and diverse that this section “forecasts”. The market will decide the fate of Box Offices and there seems little to be gained by BANES attempting to second guess the outcome.

The strategy talks about considering and planning for how public transport might impact on start and end timings of cultural events. We think there ought, in addition, to be more consideration about how public transport availability should be changed to reflect the needs of people attending cultural events.

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