Winchester is a city with heritage running through its veins and a pounding creative heart.
It’s a place that is so much more than a beautiful façade steeped in heritage. The City is home to inventive and pioneering entrepreneurs that create internationally renowned work. From RIBA Award winning architects, award-winning food and drink producers, digital experts and artists. The work of these businesses and creatives sets Winchester apart as a modern-day heritage city, a place that celebrates its past whilst embracing the future.
There’s more talent here than you might think.
But despite having the highest number of creative workers in Hampshire, Winchester’s creative scene is still relatively undiscovered and difficult to find. And despite thousands of students here, Winchester is still not seen by young people (on which its future depends) as a vibrant, creative, affordable, fun, forward-looking place to live, work and play.
That’s why I wanted to set up Winchester Design Festival. To shine a light on Winchester’s creative underbelly and give creative businesses, students and young people a chance shine and discover their creative potential. Covid-19 has scuppered plans to stage the festival this year, but we will be back next year. For sure.
It didn’t take much to convince Winchester School of Art, Winchester University, IBM, RIBA and other leading creative businesses, freelancers and students to get involved. Everyone is saying the same thing.
We are ready to amplify the talent here.
To help kick-start dialogue and collaboration between students, business, creatives, freelancers and organisations. To propel talent to the wider world and announce Winchester as a city with heritage in its blood and creativity at its heart.
There is a clear sense that some people feel Winchester is a little stuck. Winchester struggles to retain young talent. Young workers leave, seeking employment elsewhere, priced out by high accommodation costs, prevented from starting their own micro-businesses by a lack of flexible and affordable office space and high retail rents. Young artists leave the city due to a lack of studio space and little infrastructure to support them.
But with the regeneration of the town centre (the old Silver Hill) perhaps that is all about to change. Creating an environment that supports young people get on the housing ladder, independents, fledgling creatives and business benefits everyone – young and old.
Change is in the air
We see intellect at TedXWinchester conference; the Winchester Creatives amazing mentoring scheme; the stunning new Winchester University Digital Futures Centre, incredible support for grassroots arts at the Nutshell Arts Centre. I could go on. It’s all starting to happen – by some incredibly hard working and visionary local folks. We need more of it please.
Let’s be a magnet for a youthful, future facing creative community. Let’s see the young and old join hands in collaboration and support.
King Alfred would have approved, I’m sure of it!
Worthwhile Works is a creative, cultural and arts development practice with a strong public conscience based in Winchester.
Featured image: Hat Fair, Winchester.