March/April – It’s All About #SoT2021

So far on the blog I have been keeping themes going each month. You may remember me mentioning in previous posts that Stoke-on-Trent is placing a bid to be the next City of Culture in 2021. Well. seeing as I it’s a local city, I seem to be spending a lot of time there at the moment, and with all the amazingly talented people and all their hard work in the cultural sector they just bloody well deserve to win, the next two months will be a Stoke-on-Trent City of Culture (#SoT2021) special. As always, I will be including artist interviews, talking about places I have visited, and there may be a few opinion pieces thrown in for good measure.

Why Am I Backing The SoT2021 Bid?

As I wrote in an earlier piece (here) compared to other towns and cities in my local area there seems to be a tangible groundswell of artists and people with creative/cultural interests all working together to make this a reality. It is not just that there are one or two artists working together, this is so much more than that. There are groups, such as Appetite Stoke, who have been building moment and working towards engaging more people with the arts in the local area. There are also groups of artists congregating in new studio spaces in places like the Spode Factory, currently under renovation. Unlike anywhere else there is a real co-operative atmosphere being fostered within the creative communities to rejuvenate the city and make it a cultural destination.

And if anywhere deserves to be a cultural hot spot it is Stoke-on-Trent. A city widely known as ‘the potteries’, Stoke-on-Trent is the ceramics heartland of the UK. But perhaps that is to do it a disservice, as Stoke-on-Trent pottery not only has an established reputation domestically, but is also internationally renowned. There is a real history of industry there. A history that is being reclaimed with the refurbishment of many of the landmark factory sites abandoned over the years.

What is so refreshing about the cultural movement in Stoke-on-Trent is that the new wave of artists and creatives spearheading this movement are fully aware of the heritage of their city. Like the smoke from the no disused bottle kilns it permeates the the air. As you can see from my interview with ceramicist, Denise O’Sullivan, last year (here) she is not only keenly aware of the ceramics industry of the past, but passionate about preserving and incorporating those traditions and values.

For a city that has fallen to the collapse of so many industries during recent times, it is a testament to the spirit of the people of Stoke-on-Trent that they are rising to reclaim their place on the cultural landscape. The proud ownership of that heritage and the innovative ways in which artists and creatives are taking that forward is truly inspiring. Over the next two months I will try to capture this on the blog in the run up to the submission of the City of Culture bid at the end of April. Yet, whether they achieve success with the bid or not, the momentum of this movement is well underway ensuring that Stoke-on-Trent is a city on the cultural ascendance.

Want to find out more about the bid and how you can get involved? Visit the Stoke-on-Trent City of Culture 2021 website for more details:

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