It was so rewarding, as an elected member of longstanding to see the Southbank connection growing and dare I say it, spreading its wings with the local authority engaging enthusiastically with the vast array of artistic expression right on our doorstep. These are events that some years ago might not have seemed possible but with our inspirational riverside neighbour; Jude Kelly at the helm, who knows what else we might achieve as a co-operative council.
Although much has been written about the brutality of the original design, with the concrete blocks courting much of the critical attention; it is this roughness of sixties style that offers the perfect raw material through which to accommodate the imaginative concepts of spatial extravagance presented by grateful architects of the twenty first century who, with the support of serious investment will allow us to add an exciting dimension of artistic focus to our town centres north of the borough.
Whist the preview of plans for the Festival Wing on Wednesday last was pitched just right for congratulations and praise, I would like to think that this excitement will be captured as an expression of borough-wide regeneration, something that this festival site knows only too well. Sadly, our co-operative links with the Old Vic as a prime site in theatrical prestige is still in need of a cultural therapy that might be even more demanding than the Southbank connection. Here it might be down to a perception of social divide that has been allowed to separate what should be their regular inclusion on our council radar, by a local authority keen to be associated with such a wealth of artistic achievement and a share of their national acclaim. Thankfully, the scene dock doors are now open on the Southbank for us all to encourage wherever and whenever possible, a dialogue for essential funding that will make such a huge contribution to the progressiveness of a London Borough south of the river.