Friday the 10th of February was Light Night in Nottingham. Now in its fifth year the event sees a wide range of events around the city centre and beyond.
For a Friday night in an urban city it’s a wonderful and inclusive festival. Even with temperatures at -5 there were many families with young children enjoying the various spectacles after 9.00pm.
My wife and I took the three boys out at 7.00pm and went from the Market Square up to the Castle. With projections on the Council House, Marching Bands, light sculptures, performance artists, the Nottingham Ukulele Orchestra, food stalls and a plethora of musical performances throughout the night the atmosphere, given there was no specific celebration, couldn’t have been better.
These kinds of inclusive events rely more on participation and it seems to be those giving their time for the fun of it and small returns made it work. I’m sure the Council paid up for the big ticket elements, paying council employee’s for a fun evenings work, keeping the Castle open, but the returns in terms of bringing a wider demographic into the city for the evening other than the regular contingent must be substantial.
I spent many years working the bars (the drinking side) and it may have been past my time but it started to get a little tired and dark. Modern city centres are not always the nicest of places. Light Night and other simple ideas like this are a wonderful way of repopulating the streets with events that revolve around broader forms of social inclusion and really should be encouraged.
However, as the event falls under an ‘arts’ agenda it seems likely that this year may be the last. The current trend to save relatively small amounts of money in the name of austerity when public bodies spend large sums discussing, researching, implementing and then abandoning schemes of dubious public use illustrates the fuzzy mind set of the dice rollers on the various committees of power.
Nottingham seems to do the arts very well. From the Playhouse, Nottingham Contemporary, NAE, The Castle Museum & Art Gallery we have some international standard showcases. I hope that good sense plays out and we are able to continue hosting events of all types, from Light Nights to Hockney’s & Kapoor’s, Meadow’s & Ayckborn’s.
More local businesses should throw in and give some thought to supporting events, not just for profit but in order to participate in the communities that they rely on for their trade. And given the substantial sums that the local councils extract through many imaginative but badly implemented schemes, they too should be mindful that it’s not all take.
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