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Warrington named the worst place in Britain for culture

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As the title says..... Warrington has been named the worst place in Britain for culture by a study by the Royal Society of Arts.

 

 

The same newspaper published this some two years ago - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2428993/Staggering-fighting-vomiting-passed-drunk--police-say-scenes-control-town-centre-QUIETER-Friday-night-usual.html

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What we have to remember is that "popular culture" does not rate very highly with the people who carry out these surveys.  Thus, George Formby, admiral artist though he may have been, is hardly a  great cultural asset.  When the Warrington Festival chooses Pixie Lott as its headline act it is hardly likely to win brownie points from the culture vultures.  Warrington HAS got some great cultural assets, but as PJ has already hinted, the problem is that Warringtonians don't appreciate them.

Mention has been made of the Parr Hall organ - yes a great cultural asset even if the town only  posesses because they haven't been able to off-load it on anyone else.  But how many people attend a recital on the organ when the handful of local culture enthusiastgs persuade some distinguished organist to come and play it. You could count them on your fingers!  New cinema?  Not really a sign of culture - and  i suspect the films that draw the biggest audiences will be anything but cultural.

In fact, culture doesn't very often draw great support anywhere, so it is puzzling why Warrington has been singled out.

If we want to figure highly in lists like this, we have to start supporting "high culture" - opera, ballet, visits from symphony orchestras (The Liverpool Phil used to come regularly years ago!).

If we are happy the way we are, let the Parr Hall (another asset that has been mentioned) carry on staging pop stars who are "over the hill", tribute rock bands, foul mouthed comedians and other acts that many  of us probably haven't even heard of.  You may make more money - but don't try to pretend its got much to do with culture.

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Mention has been made of the Parr Hall organ - yes a great cultural asset even if the town only  posesses because they haven't been able to off-load it on anyone else.  But how many people attend a recital on the organ when the handful of local culture enthusiastgs persuade some distinguished organist to come and play it. You could count them on your fingers!

In June, 2011, and at a time when Warrington Borough Council were trying to off-load the organ, I arranged a recital to celebrate the Bi-Centenary of the Birth of organ builder, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

 

I proved that with suitable advertising and reputable recitalists there was indeed an audience for culture in Warrington, when no less than **168 people chose to travel from near and far to hear the organ after it had been silent for 4 years.

 

The event was recorded and will soon be commercially available to anyone who would like to hear this historic instrument, without going to a recital.

 

**correction  - 168 came to the Bi-Centenary recital in June, 2011

                and  272 came to Ian Tracey's recital in March, 2014.

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There must be a cultural opportunity with proper advertising to draw crowds from a massive north west catchment area....it isn't just about drawing crowds from Warrington.

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There must be a cultural opportunity with proper advertising to draw crowds from a massive north west catchment area....it isn't just about drawing crowds from Warrington.

 

There is, and I proved that there is Davy51.

Some came to the 2011 Recital from the North East of England, the Midlands, London, and even Anglesey.

 

I used every free facility to advertise as possible, but unfortunately Culture Warrington chose to spend an enormous amout of money on advertising this recital on Smooth FM - which was a completely unsuitable audience for this.

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I'm on your side really, Hillcliffe Walker. But luring people in from other parts of the country does nothing to enhance Warrington's cultural credentials. If they had all been locals it might have been different.  I agree about Smooth FM being an unsuitable audience for the organ, but I doubt if even Classic FM would have been much better and there is no other suitable radio station.

There might be some specialist magazine around that would have done better.

Incidentally the words "free" and "advertising" are surely not appropriate in the same sentence?

But Warrington is no different to most other towns when it comes to culture. You need a city like Manchester or Liverpool which is capable of drawing in crowds from over the region if you want to fill auditoriums with culture. The Lowry does it regularly - but they don't all come from Salford. Unfortunately they probably don't come from Warrington either.

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A somewhat contradictory post Adam!

On one hand you say;-

"But luring people in from other parts of the country does nothing to enhance Warrington's cultural credentials."

Then you say;-

"You need a city like Manchester or Liverpool which is capable of drawing in crowds from over the region if you want to fill auditoriums with culture."

 

The difference between Manchester or Liverpool and Warrington is that they appear to have something with which to draw crowds in from across the region.

Hill Cliffe Walker has proved that Warrington also has something of cultural value that can draw crowds in from other regions, the Cavaille-Coll. After 4 years of silence an audience of 272 is really good! With appropriate publicity it would do even better. A gem like that could pull in audiences from abroad. I think it would be brilliant on TV's "SONGS OF PRAISE" and such like, and would get plenty of "free advertising" this way.

Hill Cliffe Walker, as the master craftsman was French, the Cavaille-Coll could fit the criteria for 'joint European culture'. There are funds available from Europe for promoting 'joint European heritage and culture' this might be a source for renovating the organ - might even get funds for renovating the Parr Hall included!

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272 isn't a good crowd, the old organ, although beautiful is never going to draw in profitable crowds alone. Pixie Lott drew almost ten times this last week and the half marathon and 10 K event sold out at 5000 people. The Warrington Contemporary Art Festival drew over 25000 visitors last year. Organ recitals are a very niche interest . The councils disregard for our culturally important architectural history is well documented in here which should draw a low score but there is a great deal of natural and built beauty in the town as well as some great art, artists and exhibitions coming up soon.

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You are right PJ, 272 isn't a good crowd. But surely culture cannot be measured by the number of people who like it.  You need an education and a bit of oil in your lamp to appreciate the beauty, the depth and the complexities of organ music.  You don't need either to appreciate Pixie Lott - in fact, if you have much of either you probably won't appreciate her at all.

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But venues need to turn a profit so if very few people are interested in organ music you can't put that on week after week , you would all have something to say if the council started subsidizing elitist pastimes when there are so many cuts being made to vital services. Not saying Pixie Lott is either good nor to be considered a major cultural event bit she drew 10 times the crowd that the old organ did. Local artists and photographers are having their work displayed throughout the towns galleries throughout October. Last year 25000 people visited. Is that culture ?

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Accepted. I doubt if even Hillcliffe Walker expects organ recitals every week.  Twice a year wouldn't be bad though and perhaps the organ could be made available for local musicians to play.  This returns me to my earlier point.  If we had an educated populace, the things we regard as elitist wouldn't be elitist. And then Warrington might figure higher up the list for culture.

But I fancy most folk wouldn't care because we live in an age when mediocrity reigns supreme - not just in Warrington but almost everywhere.

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Maybe what we need to encourage cultural pursuits is a higher profile for our involvement with Chester University or even create a uni in Warrington.A great problem with culture is that much of it is based on a nostalgia of certain people who would like those days & customs to return.Unfortunately,commercialism has taken care of much of society's culture in favour of the pound notes of what is now termed "popular culture",the throw away,famous for a day world of personal & corporate greed.It is probably the high brow luvvies who populate the editorial offices of certain organisations & newspapers who really hanker for culture.

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Oh i don't know reg dixon used to pack em in at blackpool when he was on the keyboards.

 

Reginald Dixon - Blackpool Tower Ballroom Organist.  Born in Sheffield in 1904

He was assistant organist at Hillsborough Methodist church.

In addition to this, he was also studying organ on the Cavaillé-Coll organ of Sheffield's Albert Hall and at the Victoria hall, Sheffield, with the organist Harold Eaton.   https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.815087485209041.1073741832.254914054559723&type=3

 

If you would care to find out WHY the organ in the Parr Hall is so important, then I suggest you visit the group to read it for yourselves - it's all there in the 'Pinned Post'.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/660405240701596/permalink/898285656913552/

 

This group has attracted organ builders and professional organists from all over the world.

Some of these organists would be delighted to play here in Warrington - but they would be expected to play for a reduced fee by Culture Warrington.

 

I have contacted the Royal Northern College of Music, and Chetham's School of Music, both in Manchester.

Students of the Organ could be given access to the 1870 Cavaillé-Coll Organ in the Parr Hall, Warrington.

It is a fine instrument, and the music of the French Romantic Composers for Organ cannot be heard on a finer instrument.

The technique of playing an organ built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll would be invaluable if, at some time in their career, they would want to play the C-C Organs of St Sulpice, or Notre-Dame - Paris in one of 'l'auditions' held by arrangement.

Warrington is easily accessible by either road or rail, and it would be an opportunty for students of organ to experience this wonderful instrument for themselves.

I am sure that some arrangement could be made with the Warrington Borough Council, regarding the charges for the hiring of the Parr Hall.

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I am sure that some arrangement could be made with the Warrington Borough Council, regarding the charges for the hiring of the Parr Hall.

As I said, it would get a few backs up if the Council began subsidising such elitist pastimes when cuts to vital services are being made.  If the organ and organ music is as popular as you think it would surely be able to at least break even or even make a profit.  The money could be used to either maintain the instrument or perhaps put it towards the fee of a more famous player the next time.

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Adam & PJ, you don't think 272 is a good audience. A bit daft to compare an organ recital with Pixie Lott but nevertheless- how large an audience do you think she got when she was just starting out? How many people would have turned out to see her if there hadn't been the publicity or if her appearance had been just publicised on Classic FM?
If the advertising is not focused on the type of audience the performance would appeal to then how could the best result be obtained.
Culture Warrington made a major boob with expensive advertising for the organ recital on smooth FM, money wasted as it wouldn't reach an appropriate audience. Or was it a hatchet job?
WBC have always seemed to just want rid of the Cavaille Coll organ and probably the Parr Hall as well! So it might not be in their real interests if the recitals ran at a profit. I would suggest next time that the Cavaille-Coll supporters chose the advertising.

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I don't think the organ can justifiably be described as just starting out.  Councils have for many years been trying to get rid of it.  272 is a poor turnout at the Parr Hall for whatever the show.  Where the hell is the appropriate audience to advertise an organ recital to?  Radio ancient?  Lets face it, as lovely a piece of engineering as the organ is, not enough people  give a toss about it being played.  Despite your loony leanings there is no conspiracy theory here , just common and commercial sense 

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Precisely the point I was trying to make in my first post Davy!!  It is high brows who define culture. Warrington DOES have much to appeal to these people, but it has a great deal more to appeal to "low brows" and we do ourselves no favours by drawing attention to this type of popular culture when trying to defend our town's reputation.  I mean, Rugby League might be a great sport but there is not much "cultural" about it, nor would it be any better if there was!

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I suppose sport can become very much part of a town or city's culture.  Not what I would define as Culture per say though.  I don't agree that high brows define culture either, nor do low brows??  It is an amalgam of a great many things.  My personal appreciation of culture is the pursuit and enjoyment of visual arts, others its music etc. etc.  It can be ancient or modern, it makes little difference.  The problem is that the body that issued this list were clearly remiss, if they can't find 3 rather famous canals it makes you wonder if they even looked. 

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You see ,taking "art" for instance, Who defines what is art ? Many years ago you would say it was a well painted portrait of a person or a landscape,then the impressionists arrived with their own slant on a subject followed by modern artists much of whose work would need you to be on the same drug as them to appreciate. For instance i saw some art exhibits a few days ago which involved items randomly stacked as a child would do with building blocks. When does it become art & do the critics who say it is or it isn't have a vested interest either way?

I suppose anything that takes a person's mind out of it's normal comfort zone & ask it questions or educates it with something different is culture.

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As I said, it would get a few backs up if the Council began subsidising such elitist pastimes when cuts to vital services are being made.  If the organ and organ music is as popular as you think it would surely be able to at least break even or even make a profit.  The money could be used to either maintain the instrument or perhaps put it towards the fee of a more famous player the next time.

Thanks PJ - as you see, the cost of a recital is low, compared to other events at the Parr Hall - so they always make a loss on the organ event. Parr Hall Organ Recital With Jonathan Kingston

Monday 26 Oct 2015, 7:30pm

£5/£4.50 (£6/£5.50 inc online booking fee)

Parr Hall

Music

Parr Hall’s historical Cavaille Coll organ will be brought to life during the Autumn/Winter season when Jonathan Kingston performs a recital this October

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Why run it at a loss?  charge more for tickets.  Unless interest is so low that keeping it cheap is the only way to put a few bums on seats.  Just over a grand in takings is dismal.  Why should the people of Warrington subsidise this event?

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Too much art is "emperors new clothes" based for my liking.... no amount of talk and advertising would ever convince me to go to an exhibition where the main attraction is an unmade bed or a cow cut in half and stuffed in a big jar...... it just isn't art, and some deluded art critic saying it is art still doesn't make it so

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