There are three main trajectories in the definition of ‘culture’. Beauty, History and Interest. I believe Medway has them all, and very strongly.
Obtaining recognition of Medway’s culture nationally would significantly raise awareness of what we have here. ‘The Medway Scene’ is well known nationally and internationally and is well loved locally by all and especially those who were and those who are currently part of it, in terms of innovation. It’s manifested here primarily in poetry, writing, music, art, and comedy. Those who partake in the culture and those who lead it are aware of the somewhat subterranean nature of it. It’s very much a sub culture, and it’s very precious to the local people, and the youth in particular.
The Medway Scene sub culture needs to be left alone because it can and often does centre around peoples’ (often young peoples’) feelings of being hurt, misunderstood, rejected. I feel that it would be very wrong to raise the Medway sub culture scene to a formality. Instead, I believe a more effective way would be to have and promote formal or perhaps what could be described as “High Culture”. If we look at cities that facilitate a large number of ‘High culture’ venues and institutions, like London or Nottingham, Cardiff, Sheffield, Bristol, for example, the richness of it breeds, and there’s a fusion of high culture and sub cultures.
The point would be to allow the two to interact and inspire. The strong and famous ‘Medway Scene’ would benefit from formal recognition but this is more likely to happen if our “High culture” venues were to be enhanced. I believe building up arts and culture in our formal venues like schools, charities and businesses would be so good for the area and would involve no more than a strategy that funnels investment to our cultural venues, and utilises materials and resources that are already around, like plays, orchestral music, art and so on.
It would need to all link together, so for example an encouragement of drama at the schools and colleges, maybe specific drama colleges, and then reinstate, revamp or rebuild our theatres. Similarly fine art.
Art is known to aid regeneration, so it would be needed to be encouraged in the schools and colleges through to arts venues like centres, galleries with places to congregate such as eateries and bars. The same formulation for music, start and encourage it at the schools and colleges and then provide the venues that will link them to the wider population.
I believe that High culture has a place in encouraging young people and also soothing, entertaining and enhancing the lives of everyone. Things like Shakespeare, opera, classical music, these sources are incredibly rich and vibrant. If these were to be facilitated the whole area would benefit and the youth sub cultures would also be inspired.
The Medway sub culture is famous. The portrait here to illustrate it is of Bill Lewis who was one of the original stuckists; along with Billy Childish and Tracey Emin.
It is great, and it could well be left alone for example and there be formal cultural facilities enhanced and high culture brought out. There is beauty, history and interest here in Medway, let's bring it out, let's use it.