Tag Archives: road

What did the Romans ever do for us? Why the arts suffer when the Romans leave town

As Molesworth might have said in Down With Skool, ‘any fule kno’ that the impact the Romans have had on us is an unending list of civilising and culture enhancing benefits. Just take our roads as an example: they are long and straight, invariably lead to Rome, connect our major cultural centres, revolutionise industry and business growth and are directly responsible for the Highway Code and Motorway Service Stations.

The Arts, like any industry, have been blessed by the Roman approach to road building: so much so that we now regularly talk about arts and cultural infrastructure as if it were some kind of super cultural highway system.  That infrastructure creates the biggest cultural players, determines how they connect with each other, and sets the rules on who else gets to set out on the nations cultural highways. It has its own version of the Highway Code with qualifications, progression opportunities and rules of engagement to boot.  The concept of cultural infrastructure prioritises the importance of building based arts organisations, encourages the notion of entitlement and allows for small companies to tootle around housing estates like milk floats delivering their culture in bottles to grateful members of the public.

But what happens when the Romans leave town?

We’re seeing the effect of that now in our highways and byways. Roads fall into disrepair. Potholes are rife. Signage points in the wrong direction. We realise we’ve become reliant on a system which cannot do everything it promised to. The centre, as usual, can’t hold and things start to fall apart. 

What we forget in the ever increasing gloom of broken highways and damaged cultural motorway infrastructure, are the byways which existed before the Romans ever trampled over our green and pleasent land.  We used to have green roads, white roads, turnpikes, ridgeways, death roads and all manner of connections which allowed us to connect with differing communities and make sense of the wider world.  This wasn’t about a counter cultural way of getting about – this was a far more complex way of getting about which generated many more views on the cultural landscape than the straight Roman Road would ever have allowed you to do.

With our larger cultural infrastructures such as the Arts Council and the local authorities facing whole sale restructuring, and hugely inflating competition for ever dwindling public resources, the Romans are now leaving town too. The promises of infrastructure – careers, qualifications, shorter journey times are now well and truly found wanting.  Cultural traffic is grid locking in our cities and in our countrysides, there’s too many lorries for not enough country mile and the potholes are earning garages a pretty penny what with the damage to our suspension systems.

Many cultural organisations now can’t rely on the infrastructures of old to do what they need doing. We now need to reinvest ourselves in those highways and byways of old and make new connections on the equivalent of our white roads which don’t rely on the grace, favour and declining ability of the big funders of old to help us plot our way through the current contemporary cultural geography. 

This is much, much more than working in partnership – the tired old dictum of the old infrastructures.  This is about making new cultural spaces and places, new coherent multi-nodal cultural connections which demonstrate how cultural villages can connect, supply each other, develop their own longevity and take some ownership back of their own destiny.

What did the Romans ever do for us?  Too much.  It’s time we started doing it for ourselves.

See also http://landobservations.com/writing/page/2/

Removing the Rat Runs: call for European Partners

New adult learning programme for 2012: Removing the Rat Runs

We frequently use arts and creative practice in the development of innovative community engagement strategies and work directly with local communities to generate new local policies in the field of health, environment, education and culture. In 2012 we will be focusing on the health and environmental effects of urban traffic and will be doing this through the delivery of our adult learning programme, Removing the Rat Runs.

Removing the Rat Runs: calming local traffic through community actions

The ‘Rat Run’ project aims to increase local communities knowledge, skills and capabilities to reduce road traffic accidents in neighbourhoods and residential areas. Success of the speed reduction programmes in Liverpool UK, for example, has been proven to depend on good communications and building grass roots support and demand for reduced speed. It is the culture shift which ensures successful outcomes on traffic calming and road traffic accidents.
Grundtivg partners on the project will be involved in developing a European project which provides innovative insights and advice on best practice on establishing community based models of traffic calming.
Learners from the Grundtvig partners will be involved in designing local, national and European models of traffic calming based on the following model:

1. Devising a communications plan and overseeing an approach which will include
a. Identification of key stakeholders, interest groups etc and proposals for their engagement and recruitment to the campaign.
b. Utilise appropriate research to develop and co-ordinate a campaign across grassroots and influencers to achieve successful speed reduction
c. Develop key messages based on insight into attitudes, behaviours, motivations and barriers, and co-ordinate use across all partners for engagement and formal consultations to support consistency, using research to support targeting /effectiveness.
d. Develop communications protocol to ensure effective partnership approach
e. Develop supporting branding for partners to use
f. Develop a media relations strategy and action plan that will educate journalists, garner support for the agenda and result in positive media coverage.
g. Support community delivery partner / groups to run effective supporting campaigns – building community ownership and capacity
h. Evaluate the approach during delivery and refine approach in response to feedback

2. Identify community partners / organisations and individuals interested in championing this issue and taking the message into their own communities…eg schools campaigns, Councillors, parent led road safety campaigns, youth associations etc..
3. Ensure appropriate and effective reach of engagement with communities.
4. Facilitate with training, skills, financial and other resources, community led activities and campaigns to build support for the process and shift attitudes.
5. Integrate community activity with implementation phasing and partner agency communications to ensure an effective city wide approach.
6. Develop responsive and pro-active approach to engaging widely and building community capacity using social networking as one approach.

Do you want to be a Grundtvig partner?

We are now seeking European partners who would wish to collaborate on this project through a Grundtvig Partnership scheme. We are particularly looking for partners who:

* Regularly run innovative, creative adult learning programmes especially for disaffected and socially excluded adults

* Have experience of working within Grundtvig, Comenius or Leonardo European funding schemes

* Can bring a portfolio of teaching and learning expertise to the project including technical skills such as website design, production of learning materials

If you would like to become a Grundtvig partner please contact me at:

Aspire Trust Ltd
Valkyrie Lodge
30 Valkyrie Road
Wallasey CH45 4RJ

Tel. + 44 (0) 151639 9231
Mob + 44 (0) 77422 71570
Email nowen.aspire@btconnect.com
Skype name richardnyowen