Hoping for a creative mayor

A column by Fierce Earth’s Helga Henry published in the Birmingham Post on 8th April 2011.

The mayor of Birmingham is many years and a referendum result away but potential candidates and rumoured participants are already in the frame.

My instinct says that an individual, selected by the majority of a million voters, is bound to have a greater mandate to serve the city than a councillor elected by a few thousand voters in a ward. Some brief research indicates that the right mayor could also do great things for the arts and culture.

In Barcelona, a stunning cultural destination, mayor Jordi Hereu has committed 10 per cent (300 million euro) of the city’s current budget to the establishment of neighbourhood “creation factories” for creative industries, new libraries and the restoration of urban heritage sites.

High-profile mayors can spearhead initiatives that support arts organisations by enabling them to work together. Mayor Bloomberg’s administration in New York has a number of initiatives, including the Cultural Data Project, that encourage collaboration and support.

This has strengthened a cultural offer which was already world class.

Brooklyn mayor Marty Markowitz is the driving force behind last week’s “Dine in Brooklyn” where numerous high-end restaurants offer lunch for $20.11 or dinner for $25 a head.

It boosts the local economy by tempting Manhattanites over the bridge to sample Brooklyn’s many culinary delights and further develop Brooklyn’s burgeoning cultural scene.

In London, Boris’s office oversees the Fourth Plinth project.

Trafalgar Square’s previously empty plinth has included the “15 minutes of fame” individuals who participated in Antony Gormley’s One and Other and the current commission Yinka Shonibare’s Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle.

Fourth Plinth

The artwork is short-listed by public vote and selected by a specialist panel.

So I wondered what Birmingham’s “fourth plinth” could be?

Which landmark (or eyesore?) could a new mayor dedicate to hosting a rolling programme of art that was, in part, chosen by its citizens?

My vote goes to Victoria Square with something in full view of the Council House. The art might serve as a powerful visual reminder to any new mayor of the Brummies he or she was elected to serve.

Read More www.birminghampost.net/birmingham-business/business-comment/2011/04/08/helga-henry-hoping-for-a-creative-mayor-65233-28472418/

More recent columns;

Where’s city’s iconic film?

Few millionaires to be found in the creative sector


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