Monday, 24 June 2013

West Park Centre Housing the "Arty Elite"

lPublished on the 21 June
Published 21/06/2013 12:50

Delay can only make a decision more painful
The question of West Park Centre in Leeds is undoubtedly a thorny one. The centre, a former school, has for some years had a new life as a base for arts and community groups. Now the recommendations are that it needs to be either renovated or demolished.
There are those who are vocal in its support, and there are those who say that is the problem.
Supporters of its demolition say it is a building used only by the arty elite and renovation would not be justified. Either way, a decision needs to be made, so its withdrawal from the agenda at a meeting of Leeds City Council executive board is only making the process more painful.

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I like this Comment in YEP last week. This was the first time in all of this hoo-haa that anyone had publicly recognised the immense value that the West Park Centre was to the Arts in Leeds. In this humble, inauspicious flat roofed little 1950s ex-school, Leeds Symphony Orchestra, Leeds Festival Chorus and Leeds Youth Opera [and the rest] found their perfect permanent home. And here, others like Northern Ballet found a good temporary home, until something swankier [and, oh dear, a lot more expensive] came along.

Seven months later, no Council officers have come up with anything better. Leeds Symphony Orchestra leader, Martin B, checked out 39 possible venues very early on in these past seven months, and guess what?  Nothing compares.

What happens when Classic FM comes to Leeds again next year and says, "Could you do this?" and Fiona K, ic Leeds Festival Chorus, answers, "Well, we don't have the rehearsal space anymore? What happens then, then?

Does Leeds become a cultural desert, mocked by the other northern towns because it can't look after its principal orchestras and choirs in the manner to which they had become accustomed? And they wasn't asking for something posh in the city centre. The West Park Centre did, and it did very well.

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