Doing things differently is vital for Winchester’s future

We recently spoke to Peter Brown from the Winnall Rock School, based at Unit 12 in Winnall, about how to revitalise and reuse current spaces across Winchester to help support the next generation through music.

Here’s Peter with more…

We have been supporting young people and their families in Winchester since 2004, providing long-term music support through free weekly contemporary music workshops and ‘the best part of their week’.

We support children who love making music but maybe cannot afford lessons and / or struggle with the demands of the traditional, exam-focused music curriculum at school. Recently, our focus has also turned to the role of music-making to support mental health and well-being. This is integral to our workshops and in our commissions and work with local care organisations like Leigh House Hospital, Naomi House, Winchester Youth Counselling and the HCC Children-in-Care team.

Winchester City Council has been a constant and valued supporter of our cause. Although their funding support has declined, we have thankfully been blessed to discover reciprocal generosity in our community. Aside from two very part-time roles, all our resources come from our wonderful band of volunteers, people like; our Trustees overseeing the finances; our tutors teaching our children every Tuesday evening or; those who help with ad-hoc tasks such as instrument and equipment repairs. In that respect, we are no different to all the other amazing volunteer supported organisations who so enrich Winchester’s community.

Looking ahead, we see our role continuing as a provider of accessible innovative creative arts that can also provide a well-being refuge. However, as for many, the Covid19 pandemic is forcing us to rethink how to best deliver our service in the ‘new normal’, whatever that turns out to be.

For our own survival we will need to adapt or move from our current studio space and we are grateful to Unit 12 for acting fast to create a new covered outdoor area. But we also fear for how we and others may perform music and other arts to audiences in future and for the viability of our wonderful seated indoor venues such as the Theatre Royal, Chesil Theatre and Planetarium at the Science Centre.  Winchester is also blessed with other great indoor venues such as The Railway Inn, the Cathedral, St John’s Church, the Hope Church, etc and maybe we have got to get smarter on how we adapt, publicise and use these. 

Could we also think about how to best adapt and use our public outdoor spaces more wisely too? How about providing a modern, versatile take on a bandstand, say in Oram’s Arbour, Abbey Gardens or North Walls? What if we widened the viewpoint on St Giles Hill to also double up as a performance platform with the fantastic prospect of the city behind it? What about using the multi-level historic spaces around the Great Hall and Law Courts? Or can we provide a purpose-built area within the Saxongate development? 

Amongst all the bads, doing things differently will be vital if we are to keep delivering the goods for the kids and everyone else too.

Do you agree with Peter? What do you think needs changing for the future generations of Winchester to thrive? Participate by joining a working group. Find out more here 

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