Nottingham – hosting world art!

It looks like Nottingham will find a place on the world map next month.

Between the 7th and 16th September Nottingham will play host to the World Event Young Artists 2012. We are described by the organisers as a cultural city. I like this!

The event is billed as ‘A world of ideas in a week‘ – which is no understatement as our fair city plays host to music, gastronomy, visual arts, performance, film, literature and applied arts. It’s no small event – with 1,000 artists from 120 Nations plying their wares here for 10 days. What is really exciting for us is that its is the first event of its kind. It is intended to celebrate the talent and artistic excellence of young people from across the globe.

The artists are all aged between 18 and 30 and the event is part of the Cultural Olympiad. A painter and decorator, an acclaimed pioneer of Black folk music, a tweeting Town Crier and a Chinese computer game designer are among those performing!

This is more good news for Nottingham and a reinforcing of the importance of the creative heart of the City. Our newly formed creative quarter is gaining momentum. The presence of such a body of talent from around the world should do us no harm at all. I can’t wait to see what sort of events will take place.

The opening weekend celebrations include open air live music events and visual projections on the Market Square. Internationally renowned DJ Gilles Peterson will curate a day-long event at Nottingham Contemporary featuring a range of World Event Young artists and his own live set to close the evening.

A good news story for Nottingham….

Nottingham – Broad Marsh Centre – don’t hold your breath

You will know if you drop by here often that the fate of the Broad Marsh Centre exercises me frequently. The commercial world is a different one we saw back in 2006. The Westfield £400m scheme is nothing now more than a set of dust covered plans. And the harsh reality is that those days aren’t about to return anytime soon.

What Broadmarsh won’t look like

But last week the new owners made an announcement. We had been waiting with baited breath – this is important stuff for us.

And the good news? Well, CSC, the owners ‘hopes to‘ make a Planning Application in 2013. Then, ‘Work could start on site in 2014, dependent on planning permission, and the centre could potentially reopen in 2016.’. So hope and potential. And opening in 2016 – hopefully. In four years time. With luck.

This is not an announcement. The rest of the PR is about how the current centre doesn’t work. How the big shops of old are no longer there, how it needs to change it’s look and feel. This I agree with. We know there is no major scheme in the pipeline here.

The good news is that they will try to create a mall of smaller independent shops and restaurants.

But am I the only person who thinks the centre will be dead and buried in four years time? It is already dire. Unless it changes soon (2012 soon) then it will just become more of a ‘value centre’ i.e Poundland, Everythings-a-pound, 99p stores, Wilkinsons, Heron Foods and other such aspirational retailers…

Nottingham deserves better than this, until you spot that the announcement drops out that Victoria Centre will get extended in… 2013. No sign of hope and potential…

Dexy’s 2012 – pretty good

Back in May I was reminiscing about the new Dexy’s album. No midnight runners – just Rowlands and a few of the original gang for a reunion album – called ‘One Day I’m Going to Soar’.

As expected, I bought it in the week. Via Amazon. Sorry HMV and other shops, but CD’s are now bought on-line….

It arrived on Wednesday and was immediately ripped to my iPod, iPad, car, macbook air and office mac… Because, it is really rather good. I have played it to death and it’s only Saturday. It’s not got the raw edge of too-rye-ay but it is quite grown-up! I am suitably impressed and will keep an eye out for them playing live. It’s worth a punt – if you like your music. And if you were a fan first time round of the dungaree wearing hippies…this is a great follow-up. Rowlands still has a distinctive sound.

But my abiding memory of Dexy’s the first time round was when they appeared on Top the Pops doing their follow up to Come on Eileen – a cover of Van Morrison’s “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile)”. TOTP got it slightly wrong when they put a picture of Darts player Jocky Wilson up as a backdrop!


By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Grumpy Old Man! Tagged album, Come On Eileen, comeback, Dexy's, Kevin Rowlands, , too-rye-aye

Olympics 2012

I have studiously avoided blogging about the Olympics. I can’t quite get excited. Tickets at £475 don’t make this an inclusive games at all. They make it a rather exclusive club. And I was unimpressed with some of the Nazi tactics around the ‘protection’ of the Olympic logos.

I was trying to avoid seeing the start of the Games. But it was on TV and so I watched for a while. I couldn’t imagine how they could stretch the ceremony out for three hours – then you remember the flag thing – all 204 countries parading… yawn.

If you did watch – and you are not in the UK, can I just make it clear that the Maypole, cricket playing folks – with horses ploughing the fields is not where I live. I don’t wear a top hat (well not to work anyway). Isambard Kingdom Brunel was a great bloke – but he’s been dead for 150 years. But I also noted he had an iPod – an early adopter indeed.

The Pearly Kings and Queens and the Chelsea Pensioners got a gig. Like they always do. You can always rely on them to turn out.

For some reason we had to advertise the NHS too – the £27m cost of the ceremony might have been better spent on on healthcare? I was expecting Andrew Lansley to come out and talk at us. Thank God for small mercies. I did think that there was some accuracy in the hospital beds all lined up – like in the corridors. Why did this feature at all?

Not sure why Jean Michelle Jarre got a night out. If the French had wanted this event they could have paid the alleged £24bn cost? At least the Sex Pistols featured – although it was Pretty Vacant, not God Save the Queen…

Now how can I avoid the TV stuff over the next few weeks?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged God Save The Queen, James Bond, London 2012, , Sex Pistols, The Sex Pistols

The Banks big sell….

It has been long a policy of Banks to cross sell to their customers. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I use internet banking. I get fed up of refusing Insurance, ISA’s or currency for Europe – depending on the day of the week. It was a good reason to stop going into a branch.

But I needed to pay a cheque in a few weeks ago to a well known High Street Bank – it was a reasonable amount – although after paying tax it wasn’t exactly life changing. But the cashier was perplexed by it. I thought for a few moment that it was forged – or was payable to Mickey Mouse? But it wasn’t.

He asked me very politely why I wanted to pay it into the particular account. Why? Because I chose to do so. He then disappeared – to reappear with the Bank manager. She was equally polite. Asking the same question. Why?

I began to feel guilty. But insisted I was a (nearly) responsible adult and knew what I was doing. ALthough secretly I may have had some doubts.

It seemed they wanted me to pay it into their supa-duper-mega-wonga-earning-no.54 account. Which was better than the one I had.

I refused. And for my insistence had to fill a form in – absolving them of all liability for my apparent stupidity. I’m sure I actually signed as such, viz. I acknowledge I am a complete numpty.

And then this week, I took a call from my internet based bank (the one I communicate through my computer to). They wanted to see me. To chat about my account. Which was not a great one apparently … Kind of them to point it out – but I’m now getting fed up of them cross selling at every level.

I think they think they’re being helpful. I just feel harassed.

Not so sustainable….

I drive past McDonalds every day – deliberately. It isn’t part of my daily routine.

But I do remember the Nottingham Castle Marina branch being opened. If my memory serves me right it was 1989 – and a certain Martin Brandon-Bravo, the local MP at the time performed the little curtain drawing ceremony. I remember this as there was a brass plaque form many years. Then when he lost his seat McDonalds took the plaque down! Like erasing history?

So 24 years on, it is interesting to see another re-fit. A major one this time as the ‘restaurant’ has been closed for weeks. It’s not a great advert for the longevity of buildings.

Last week I was judging some awards – and the question of sustainability came up. Sure, we are putting buildings up with low carbon footprints. We are even getting good at it – some of the technologies are so clever we are being paid by the utility companies as they produce too much electricity to use themselves.

I guess McDonald’s are fitting better insulation and greener technologies.

But this building is 24 years old. It’s not exactly sustainable then. We have all of the embedded carbon from its original construction – and now another load.

My point is that some of the best sustainable buildings we have are buildings that have stood the test of time. Take the Pitcher & Piano in Nottingham. It was a church – built in 1876. It stopped being used as a pace of worship in 1982 when it briefly became a Lace Museum. Now a thriving pub. Sure, it has had a refit internally, but is this not a truly sustainable building? 136 years and counting?

Compare this to the monstrosity being built on Castle Boulevard I blogged about here. Will this be standing in 136 years – not a chance. Bet you my life on it…

Oh – and Ronny McD I haven’t forgiven you for taking down that brass plaque….


You might recall a couple of weeks ago Deb Tate from Thinking Place blogged here – about an event held in London last week. I went along as I’m really interested in how we make sure Nottingham has a coherent story. How we create a place.

The event was held at the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre – close to Waterloo Station. In itself this is clearly a ‘place’ that has a story and a really unique feel. A great setting for the event. If you are interested in the centre you can read about it here. I was fascinated by it – partly as I could see that this was a 1960′s challenging building beneath – but it now has character…

The theme of the event was that we have stagnant growth in the UK and we need to stimulate it – but it’s a challenge economically, especially in the public sector.

I listened to two great speakers – ALex Jones and Dr Julie Grail.

Alex talked about the seismic shift we have seen into service based industries – away from manufacturing. What is clear is that ‘place’ matters to the people who work therein. They tend to cluster around centres, whereas the lower grade work tends to be spread out. So we need to make sure we make place a central plank of the offer for the service industries. I thought Alex’s key statement was that places need to make it easy to do business – Nottingham please take note!

Julie looked at it from a different perspective – she thought some of Portas was good (we disagree!) but her statement was ‘High Street retail is dead, Long live consumption’. Her arguments were that the world has changed and we are shifting the way we transact. Place does matter, but it is shifting. It will look very different in a few years time.

All in all, it was a fascinating evening. There were some great ideas – and some key lessons for us all to learn…

Nottingham – PR we don’t need?

I was kindly sent a clipping from one of my clients in London a couple of weeks ago. It was a story about a Swedish filmmaker, Birger Larsen, who directed Dutch hit series – The Killing, uses a searing red filter to bring the colour of blood to his tale of murder. And he has chosen Nottingham for the backdrop for his latest film.

On the face of it – good news?

Well not exactly. To be shown on BBC2 it is (un)helpfully titled Murder.

Nottingham is becoming a hotbed of creativity. The growth plan I blogged about yesterday will enhance our reputation and hopefully see the creative sector grow. Filmmakers are part of that cultural heartbeat. All great news.

But then I discovered why Larsen had chosen us. He shoots through a deep red filter and helpfully announced, “We used the colour of blood. I don’t know Nottingham, so it was a huge surprise to me when I went there for the exterior filming we did. I sensed this hostile vibe. It might just have been me, but there was this mean vibe in the streets. I don’t know why.

I guess I would have preferred if we had a smiley, happy story of life in Nottingham – rather than a murderous tale.

As for the Streets being hostile – where on earth did he go? It’s not a word I would use? Not have I heard it used before. I don’t wander around Nottingham in awe of a hostile vibe?

Larson is Swedish, perhaps it got lost in translation? It must be a luvvee thing?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man!, Nottingham Tagged BBC2, blood red filter, Dutch, Larsen, Murder, The Killing

The Nottingham Growth Plan

I was at the launch of the Nottingham Growth Plan last week. It was held at the University of Nottingham campus, the great and good were present.

We heard from Jon Collins, leader of the Council and from David Greenaway at the University amongst others. The launch of this plan is ambitious – in an attempt to get Nottingham back on the map. I think it has much to commend. In particular it focuses on three areas:

* Digital Content
* Lifesciences
* Clean technology

The first sector includes photography, film, computer games and social media. If you want to go and see it first hand, get yourself an invite down to Antenna – the creative heart of nottingham. The place has a palpable buzz. At the monet it is estimated that there are around 6,500 people employed in this growing sector. As the growth pan envisages clustering this should easily grow…

Nottingham has ‘form’ in the science – we have heritage with Jesse Boot and that legacy carries on today. Obviously we still have Boots, but we also have the amazing BioCity. We have one of the largest concentrations of medical technology companies – over 380 based here. And this is where our two Universities are critical – one in four start-ups in this sector spin out from University!

Finally, the clean technologies actor – includes this companies that are looking at low carbon technologies. We have over 7,000 people in 420 small companies in Nottingham working here. Again this has to be a growth area.

So they are the key sectors – but you also need a plan…

The plan is also three fold:

1. The city will foster enterprise – including giving money to kick start business.
2. It will develop a skilled workforce
3. It will build an infrastructure fit for the 21st Century

I like the plan – it is measurable and practical. It should stand Nottingham in good stead for the future…

Nottingham Contemporary – the summer show 2012

It amazes me how quickly new shows come around at the Nottingham Contemporary. Last Friday night I joined the Director’s tour of the latest show. This is the Summer one!

And this one I like very much. I do sometimes find contemporary art challenging – it can be too abstract for my CSE Grade 4 in Art. I’m not a huge Constable fan I’m more appreciative of Haring!

As has become a pattern there are two main shows.

The Alfred Kubin work is mostly drawings from 1900 or thereabouts. It is dark and nightmarish in parts. It’s not exactly uplifting! He had a tough upbringing which was inspiration for the work. Interestingly he married and then lost his artistic ability – his work was prolific (over 1,000 pieces) in a few years – and then nothing. He lived a happy, normal life after marriage!

But the Francis Uprichard I liked much more. The majority of the work is a series of approximately 1/3 life size models, They too have a nightmarish quality – especially the tiny little hands. They are dressed in weird and wonderful robes. Their faces are stark and strangely feature-less. All of them are mounted on ‘furniture’ placing them at our eye height. They are quite haunting – as you can see from my photograph.

This is one of my favourite exhibitions so far. I would encourage you to go and see it.

We remain lucky to have the Contemporary and it is becoming an important part of Nottingham life. I was interviewed during the evening to ask for my view on why my firm are benefactors. I think that there are a number of reasons – firstly that art is a key part of Nottingham’s offer. It also gives us a great opportunity to network -and the networking is a different group of people. Finally the facilities and environment are great for meeting people.