It seems as though the moment you hear of a new arts project or building being created in Chester, it is counteracted by the closure of another creative endeavour, due to lack of funding. Many residents of Chester were disappointed to hear of their beloved cinema and bowling alley complex ceasing to exist. The council’s decision to close this cultural hub in Chester, in favour of yet another supermarket, has left a very bad taste in some individual’s mouths.
The promise of a huge theatre and cinema complex was offered to the public to soften the blow, in the space of the old Odeon building. Yet, residents have yet to see where all of the planning and funding has disappeared as progress on the building seems to have hit a brick wall.
The company in charge of said production, Chester Renaissance has often reassured the worried citizens of the city, but are we starting to lose our faith in their empty promises?
Graham Lister, of the RE:NEW project in charge of creating this magnificent cultural masterpiece, has assured me of the work which the company are planning to take on. He said: “There is much to talk about including the archaeological dig which is nearing completion, the Arts Council’s glowing assessment of the scheme, its national profile and of course the really great work being carried by local arts organisations, including Chester Performs, who will go on to run the new Cultural Centre when it opens.”
It seems as though the men in charge have an answer for everything. Yet, they don’t seem to be able to answer any direct questions.
Arts Council chairman, Sir Peter Bazalgette, has previously praised the prolific project in the press, which is now worth about £37m, with the Arts Council themselves contributing £3m of taxpayers hard-earned wages for funding.
Their plans to create a 800-seat theatre, 100-seat cinema and library, café, 150-seat studio theatre and offices have been presented, yet no action has been taken. How long are we expected to wait?
Chester has been named one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, however, when it comes to culture and history, the city seems to be left without. While guests are able to enjoy visits to our museums, the size and content of said exhibitions leave a lot to be desired. For a city so steeped in history, I feel we are really let down by our lack of ability to showcase it to its full potential.
For now we will have to keep a close eye on the progress, hoping that the closure of the only picture house in Chester was not in vain.
Work has already started on the project featuring the tag line: “The start of something big” so let’s hope it is.