One of the things I am involved in every year is the Southbank Bristol Arts Trail. It’s a great event, where artists, and there are over 200 of them packed into this small area in South Bristol, open their homes to the general public over an entire weekend. Last year in the Southville Centre, which is the main venue, we had over 4000 people through the door over the weekend. People come down to have a look around, look at art, nose at peoples houses, and generally have a great day out. Some people spread it out over the entire weekend. There is a great community feel to the event, and its good to see families and groups of people on foot wandering around the area smiling and happy. This year it’s even bigger than before, and we are going to have 64 venues with 200 artists. Most of the art is for sale, with reasonable prices. And its going on for a whole week, with performance during the following week.
My role in the arts trail (apart from participating as an artist) is to run the website group, and as a member of the steering committee I attend steering group meetings during the cold, wet and dark winters evenings. We basically organise the whole event, on practically no money, and we’re all volunteers. There. That’s got the whingeing out of the way. That said, we do get a lot out of it, not just the satisfaction of seeing all the happy smiling faces on the trail, or seeing ourselves on TV or in the press. For me, it’s something I do for the community, for the area. Its good for the local economy, for instance local the estate agents do well on the back of this as everyone wants to move to Southville these days, and that is reflected in the house prices! It’s also good for local traders, and people selling food and drink do exceptionally well throughout the trail. I also do it for the experience, as running the website gives me grass roots feel for how a good content managed system backed community website operates. Its a good testing ground for new ideas, what works and what doesnt. And most of all, how the people using it feel and react to changes. People dont like change, especially artists! But they are a good bunch.
Photos by Laurence Ketteringham