From the spectacular seascape of Ilfracombe bay (see below), palm trees and sea spray (and seagulls) splashing the lorry to the urban vista of downtown Rotherham with Boots, Poundland and Shoezone in my immediate vicinity. It’s not quite the sublime to the ridiculous but it comes fairly close. I do enjoy such contrasts though and I’m not casting nasturtiums. It is all part of the job and territory.
Ilfracombe Victorian Celebrations were once again enjoyable and diverting, although I felt they were very reduced this year. Like many such locally developed and managed events, the committee are under great pressure to find the required funding and has dwindled in numbers over the last few years. The writing was clearly on the wall this year so I decided it was time to step in if I was to be able to be back there next year for this lovely event.
I spoke to a lot of local people while in the town, in particular to the movers and shakers of the community. I wrote and presented a short proposal to the gathered numbers in the attractive and central Emmanuel Church. Basically I have offered to come out of retirement and lead the event. Here’s what I offered:
I attend and perform next year free of charge to the committee.
In return, the committee appoint me (unpaid) Artistic Director of the event for one year. This means I will take on the organisation of the fund-raising, marketing, publicity, planning and programming of the event in collaboration with the committee. I will do this mostly by email and phone though I will come down to Ilfracombe for a week in the early new year to do an intensive period of administration and organisation.
I will involve as many of the existing organisations in the town as I can and get them to participate actively in the event. I have already spoken to and had the ‘in principle’ approval for this involvement from many several key people and groups.
If the above is agreed by the committee, I intend to run the event for nine days as before, but will lead up to the second weekend which will be called a Victorian Gala Weekend and will be a spectacular climax to the week. I will work closely with education providers during the week leading up in all the schools of the town, doing workshops and involving all the Junior and Infant children in the event. I will do a presentation at the High School for the older ones. I will encourage and persuade the major organisations and elements in town to get involved again. The existing events organised by the committee can still continue and be part of the programme, but I would like a say in their planning and timetabling. I will particularly encourage the Steam Punks nationally to make this an event not to be missed. I will have the poster, programme and publicity re-designed to reflect these dynamic changes. I will put the event on the calendar UK-nationally (and hopefully internationally) and fill the town with visitors for the week.
I will take on the organisation of the Gala weekend in total, thus relieving the burden on the committee of some of the major headaches for planning and running the event. I will rethink the procession and decide how this will feature within the week. I would change the flavour of the event to reflect some of the other, not so obvious, aspects of the Victorians and Victorian life.
I will raise funds locally and nationally for the above and am confident I will find the funds to make the event. The funds will go through the committee’s accounts and I will keep the committee fully informed of progress at every stage. I would start the work immediately I have the committee’s approval and will be available to anyone who wants to contribute to the event, its planning or organisation.
I am determined to make the 2016 event a spectacular success and believe I have the energy, enthusiasm and skills required to do so.
So there we are. I’m letting myself in for a busy twelve months if they agree.
In the meantime I’ve the rest of my summer programme to present.
All the best from a road near you,