Friday, December 16, 2011

An Ipswich arts centre for live music? Nah...

My well-established gripe is that original live music provision in Ipswich is always overlooked when this town gets money for arts development.  I know the reason is that bands are like little self-contained islands, in that they don't naturally work together to get things done for the collective good.  Bands are very friendly and helpful with each other, and mutual support within the Ipswich music scene is the crucial glue that binds it together, but bands have always lacked the consistent 'one voice' approach to the curators of cash that organisations like (for example) the Ipswich hospital band can present.

So what's the answer?  Well we need either a dedicated soul who will co-ordinate all us loser-musicians (possible I guess), or we need someone at the council with enough vision and passion to take one the task of setting up something along the lines of Norwich or Colchester Arts Centre, but sadly I don't think that's going to happen.  It's harsh truth, but one that must be acknowledged that lack of public money has always held back musicians in Ipswich.  There are some GREAT pubs to play in here in Ipswich, but commercial pressures can sometimes be an unhelpful influence (and just plain daunting) to anyone wishing to break out of the practise room and into the live music arena.

The Big Rig
Suffolk PA Hire company Universal PA proved the need for a Arts Centre sized venue
in Ipswich by putting on The Stiff Little Fingers at the (now defunct)
Ipswich Caribbean Association, the event sold out quickly.

You may wonder I'm talking in terms of public money instead of private, and the reason is that alarmingly setting up the mid-size live music venue (like Norwich or Colchester Arts Centre) that Ipswich desperately needs is unlikely (at first) to be a profitable venture.  Good arts funding isn't about making a buck, it's about inspiring and facilitating something admittedly intangible but unquestionably positive for a very large group of people.

So while projects like the recently announced Ipswich arts 'hub' are an outstandingly positive move forward for Ipswich arts, I don't think anyone playing original music should get too excited just yet.  But hey, if you want to be the person who takes on the challenge of setting up an Arts centre style venue then I'll do everything I can to help you, in fact I think if someone were brave enough to stand up and be a figurehead for this campaign then he or she would be pleasantly surprised when they looked over their shoulder and saw just how many people were stood behind them backing them up.

There is now an 'Ipswich Arts Centre' website which has been created to discuss this idea