“I suppose for me as an artist it wasn’t always just about expressing my work; I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture I was living in.” David Bowie
There is a perception of Portsmouth as a rough uncultured city. Sadly, many people locally believe this misperception. The truth is that Portsmouth is a vibrant place with hard edges. It boasts two beautiful Victorian theatres within a comfortable walk of each other. A music venue that can claim to have headlined the majority of up-coming bands and performers of the last two decades. A university whose last two Chancellors have been respected cultural divas. A unique music festival with a national profile and an established and respected broad range arts festival.
Most, if not all, of this has been developed in the last 20 years. There has been a delightful renaissance in the city driven by individuals who have been prepared to do something to develop and improve the cultural offer assisted by a council sensible to the economic and community importance of the arts for the regeneration of the city.
In 2002 I was invited to join the board of the New Theatre Royal. I helped devise the project to rebuild the stagehouse lost to arson in 1972 and, as Chairman, oversaw raising £4.5m funding and completion of the reconstruction.
Having completed this personal ambition for the city, I needed another challenge to occupy my time. Poetry has always been my preferred art. So I set out to build an annual poetry festival.
We are a small but impressive team. Sam Cox is the city’s poet laureate and talented performance artist. Maggie Sawkins is an award winning poet. Liz Weston is a respected figure in education and outreach work with a talent to harness the arts in inspiring projects. We are assisted and supported by Portsmouth Festivities thanks to the generosity of James Priory at PGS.
We intend to work within all art forms. The project to fuse poetry and street art demonstrates that we are not committed to stuffy notions of culture with a capital C and involves one of the most vibrant and creative talents in the region in MyDogSighs.
Watch this blog for further developments. If you want to comment, make suggestions or get involved pleae use the Contact Us page or email to firstname.lastname@example.org Alternatively, place your poems, comments or favourite work on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/PoetryPortsmouth