July 29th, 2013 – Street Party
Clare Hackney, a local artist in Eastbourne, organised a Street Party after completing her mural on Langney Road. The mural created a massive buzz in the area, with local residents keen to see the finished piece of art work. Over 200 people attended the much anticipated community event and everyone enjoyed the beautiful summer’s day with local entertainment.
After the Street Party, Clare took time to reflect on her achievement through an interview with Devonshire West’s Big Local PR Officer, Andrea Katsari.
I saw an advert in the artists’ newsletter for the blumonkeynet saying, ‘artist wanted by Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC) to paint a mural’. I was then put in touch with Will Callaghan from EastbourneCan by Steve Wallis, my local Councillor, for a small amount of funding for the project. The Spruce up Squad, part of EastbourneCan, is run by volunteers, and dedicated to brightening up Eastbourne’s empty shops. For this cause it has a small grant from EBC. The Spruce up Squad commissioned the mural, liaised with the landlord, and helped varnish at the end. It took me 70 days to complete the mural, starting from September and working through the winter.
Why did you chose the theme musical legends?
I wanted a theme that people would like and that would cross barriers. The idea of music came up, as everybody can relate to that. I ensured there was something for everybody, from Elvis to Tupac. Interestingly, local people were worried that the mural would be vandalised, but everybody loves it so much that nobody has defaced it.
I wanted to build upon the community spirit I felt growing up in the area throughout my time painting on the pavement. The idea of having a street party seemed a marvellous way to celebrate with the community. One resident even commented that “It had breathed life back into the community,” so to continue with this, I felt a street party where young people could show off their talent would be ideal.
Was the street party a success, and would you do it again?
Yes it was a great success, lots of local people came with their children and enjoyed playing and being entertained by the local talent, sharing food and having fun on a hot summer’s day. It was great to take control of an area which needed revitalising and creating a positive community feeling where everyone could join together and have fun. It was also brilliant to involve the young people I work with from the YMCA in the project too, from setting up, creating tasty food, performing and running a crafts table.
Almost as soon as I had finished I was starting to plan the second one in my head. Only next time it will be a little bigger and a little better!
What was the highlight for you?
It’s difficult to think of one best moment, but when I said over the loud speaker “and now it is finally finished” and the food, people and entertainment were there, the free tea garden provided by the CAAP team was in place, it was an amazing feeling that everything had come together at that moment and my plans had worked out.
I was also delighted to see that lots of children had attended, especially from Bourne School, who I had invited during their previous Friday afternoon assembly. Well known play leader Sue Morris and the Circus Skills team entertained the children all afternoon.
Why were the Big Local team there?
I became involved with the Big Local project when Jim Boot found me up a ladder painting my mural when he first came to Eastbourne to look around.
We decided that the event would be an ideal opportunity to raise awareness for the Big Local project, as the local community could express any ideas they had. Plus they were a huge help getting ready for, and packing up from the party.
What do you feel you have achieved from the Street Party?
I hope that I have changed in a little way how people feel about the area, that there is a lot of life in there, and with a little support marvellous things can happen.
May 2013 – Big Local Spring Event
A small representative group from the Big Local Devonshire West residents planning group travelled to Hastings Bridge Community Centre on Wednesday 22nd May to attend the Big Local ‘Spring Event’ workshop. The event provided an opportunity to meet residents from other Big Local areas, compare notes and talk with the Local Trust and its partners about practical support for the Eastbourne Devonshire West Big Local project.
The trip to Hastings Spring Event workshops gave the planning group representatives an opportunity to look to the future, and to anticipate what still needs to be done to make sure Devonshire West gains the improvements its residents say it deserves. The planning group, which comprises of a mix of residents, local business people, a representative from Eastbourne council, Ward Panel Chair persons and other local agencies, will work together to ensure local people are aware of the Big Local commitment of at least £1m spend over at least 10 Years. The planning group recognises they are still at the beginning of a long but exciting journey.
During the event the planning group was able to take a look back at what they had achieved since the £1m was awarded to the area. The Big Local launch at the Bourne Primary School on the 2nd February 2013 with over 100 local Devonshire ward residents was an extremely successful event. This was followed by a further planning workshop with 25 people attending, of whom half were residents on the 16th March. Finally, a very successful business and community event on the 7th May 2013 with over 60 local business people attending.
The Spring Event in Hastings turned out to be very helpful for the participants and a great social occasion with plenty of opportunity to talk with other groups and residents about their own local experiences. The workshops covered a range of useful topics including; Running a focus group, using social media to promote Big Local projects and communicate with residents and the wider community and looking and learning about those videos already made by other Big Local projects and developing the skills to use video and film technology. The Local Trust Chief Executive, Debbie Ladds, also held a Big Local ‘surgery’ to answer questions about particular topics from some of the Big Local areas.
Big Local Devonshire West is now planning to appoint a ‘Local Trusted Organisation’ (LTO) to act on behalf of Big Local in all its financial matters. This step is to secure proper financial accounting and to prepare for the drawdown of initial funding to start putting together events, road shows, publicity, research and other projects to reach out, engage and inspire many different activities within the local community.
May 2013 – Big Local Business Event
Nearly 50 people came together from both local business and the Big Local working group on Tuesday the 7th of May at the Afton Hotel to have their say on what they thought of Devonshire West. People who attended the event were eager to both listen and have their say on how Big Local should spend the £1m to improve the area.
The event began with some informal networking amongst the local businesses, this was followed by a presentation from Big Local’s Rep, Jim Boot where he explained what Big Local is, what it aimed to do and the steps that needed to be taken to release the £1m. Attendees were then invited to take part in a ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘dream’ exercise; this gave them the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions on the area. Although a lot of issues were brought forward during the exercise, such as ‘area re-branding’ and ‘empty shops’, there was also positive feedback on Devonshire West, including ‘a great diversity in the community’ and ‘businesses being in close proximity to the beach and town-centre.’
Jim later commented on the evening; “Big Local is all about residents taking the lead in their community and they showed the way last night. Through a concerted and professional campaign on-line and face to face, the resident working group managed to persuade every type of business in Devonshire West to come along including cafe owners, IT specialists, management consultants, pub landladies, guest-house owners and theatre impresarios! The room buzzed with ideas to make Devonshire West ‘the place to be’. It was an evening with a serious purpose – to look at how to improve the economy at the most difficult of times – but with a growing team of enthusiastic residents and now businesses leading the way, Devonshire West is definitely on the way up.” Sally Pearson from Local Trust added: “It’s good to hear that the area is making such good progress that they don’t want to wait for their Getting Started funding before getting started – a very good sign!”
As the event came to a close, a feeling of greater community spirit was evident. This was reflected when attendees confirmed their dedication to the project. Business owner, Militsa Katsari, commented that “Devonshire West has been a neglected area for far too long, we are now excited that Big Local is taking an interest in the area, and helping us in its much needed rejuvenation.”