Finding Blaenavon & learning about Enterprise Facilitation

For the last couple of years we have been trying to find Maindee. To be honest this is hard as the people living in this place keep on changing and there are other names which confuse the geography... like Corporation Road, Victoria and even Beechwood. Last week we went to the end of X24 bus route from Newport - to the town at the top of the valley called Blaenavon.

Jayne and John in Blaenavon

This article mostly centres on what we learned from Jayne Skyrme [pictured above left], who lives and works in Blaenavon. What we found were some lessons about facilitating enterprise and understanding what it means when a place has a strong sense of its own identity.

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Library Refresh about to get real!

This week we will receive quotations from contractors to carry out the first phase of works to the building. With a written proposal we will then be in a situation to enter a contract for the work; gone will be the big questions about how long the work will take and how much it will cost. 

Contractor visit Maindee Library

This blog is essentially a diary entry written before the big event. We explain some detail about the Arts Council of Wales' socially-engaged process which got us to this stage and some of the challenges which we have confronted - or maybe about to properly face...

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New Paths November 2017: Creative Ways of Making Money?

The November New Paths session explored creativity and asked about ways of making money. The main focus for the session was the presentation delivered by the student group making the mobile cafe, with updates on Cinema Speaks from Bernie and Fez giving us some background on how the Newport Photomarathon been shaped and delivered.

New Paths Gathering Nov 17

We also moved the session from the library over the road to Holbrook Studio, which was the HQ for the Newport Photomarathon and also the venue for a new creative business that Fez is developing.

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Responding to Toilet Debate: 3 Questions for Localities

On Tuesday 7th November 2017 we hosted a memorable and successful seminar which started with presentations on the specifics of public toilets, but broadened out [as we had hoped] towards wider discussions about public space and social justice. To pick one message from the day is quite easy: Clara Greed said that: “We have to talk toilets because if we’re too embarrassed to talk about them then we won’t get policy right.”

Attendees at seminar

This blog article gives us a resume of the day and sets out what a small charity like Maindee Unlimited, based in a very specific locality, may be able to do to protect and provide public toilets in a place like ours. As such we will explore the following questions:  (1) how can communities organise around issues of provision e.g. for consultations like the one which we learned will happen in Wales in 2018; (2) can toilets become/make desirable urban destinations and (3) Are Local authorities still the best-placed provider for toilets?

 

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Toilets, Public Space... and Social Justice?

Next week we run our first public seminar since the event on Church Road in June 2014 which helped to plan Finding Maindee. Three years on many artists, volunteers and members of the public have gained experience of running the library and working through the challenge to Find Maindee. In the wider world of public space the impacts of austerity have continued; in Newport - like every locality in Wales and the UK - we are collectively having to make very difficult decisions about what is worth sustaining.

Toilet seminar

Though the event next week focuses on the important issue of toilets, with some excellent speakers and links to policy-makers at Welsh Government, we want to go further and ask what this means for social justice. For example, are models such as the Business Improvement District [BID] an alternative way to manage public space and to what extent are the civic or the community, that’s to say volunteers, willing to go in taking on responsibilities for public services and public facilities? Is this fair?


This blog article outlines the social justice debate that this seminar will explore and why the arts are providing opportunities to explore the use of public space in Maindee.

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