Writing can often be a solitary profession. I’ll spend hours at my PC, tucked away in my back-bedroom office, blinds tightly drawn, lost in a world of my own creation. When finished, I’ll email my completef manuscript to my agent and begin working on my next project.
All of my marketing and promotion, (even occasional meetings with prospective collaborators) is conducted online. The world can often feel far away, and I, detached.
Which is why I’m thankful for Stoke on Trent’s City of Culture bid, as it has provided a great excuse to leave the office and get out there to meet fellow creatives.
And what a wealth of talent this city harbors!
Before the commencement of the bid I was already aware of a multitude of authors, poets and film-makers at work within the city. However, my social media reach extended only so far, and only now do I realise how much I have missed out on.
Uniting under the banner of the bid, I have learned of the work of creatives that had previously escaped my radar. I’ve attended impromptu events that have led to new collaborations, not only for the night in question, but for future projects. I’ve seen art inspire art in this city more during the last six months than at any time I care to remember.
Granted, I’m a relatively new kid on the cultural block, but I’ve seen hardened veterans of the creative scene working hand in hand with those taking their first tentative steps into the world of the arts, imparting valuable words of wisdom, and more importantly, encouragement.
I’ve collaborated with artist’s that I met via hashtags, and together we’ve created pieces that otherwise would not have existed.
And this is just my story. I’ll wager there are plenty more artists in the city who will attest to something similar. Just think for a moment about how many projects came to be just because of the City of Culture bid!
The bid has not only galvanized our creative community, but it’s reach has spread, encouraging others to not only attend a cultural event (of which there have been many) that they might have otherwise ignored, but also to try their hand at creating art themselves.
This is something that I am keen to see happen in future, regardless of the outcome of the bid. I’ve said it before – I want my children to grow up in a city that not only celebrates its creatives but actively encourages engagement with the arts.
I firmly believe we have the foundations in place to achieve this goal.
As to whether we secure the title City of Culture 2021, to me, it matters little. Having felt the positivity generated by those involved with the bid, having seen how it has united the city’s creatives and has shone a spotlight on the numerous talents that we can boast as our own; Stoke on Trent is already a city of culture.
In my opinion, that is a win.
Best of luck to the bid team, and thank you to everyone who has been involved, no matter how big or small a part you have played.
Photographs courtesy of @sot2021