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Guest blog: Nottingham – a creative city?

Creative October kicked off last Friday. Previous years’ winners of the Fashion and Crafts category of the Notts Creative Business Awards put on a reception at Dwell at 1 Fletcher Gate in Nottingham. They are Daniel Hanson, Susi Henson, Debbie Bryan, Laura McCafferty and GH Hurt & Son and they have displays of their work there for the rest of the week. They’re also putting on “Not a Fashion Show – a Celebration of Style” starting at 5pm on Thursday 7th in the Exchange Arcade. It promises to be a bonkers event with Nottingham’s style makers, leaders, and people of character parading the catwalk! Mark Del is MCing. You can see the full listing of events here.

Creative October is all part of a shift to get the city celebrating and taking ownership of its creative people and businesses. I am amazed at the number of fantastic and creative things that are being done in Nottingham. I am saddened at the lack of confidence the city seems to have.

I guess there is a question needing to be asked. What is a creative city? A fairly ambiguous one really, but we have to have a starting point. What is the sense you have of this place? How do you feel when you walk its streets? What do you feel when you think and talk of your city? We all have experiences of walking into a place and getting a palpable ‘sense of place’, the tingle down the spine, a shiver of expectation, that ineffable feeling. And the sense I have of Nottingham is of it just beginning to wake up. There is an emerging energy around the city that just keeps on presenting itself.

Signifiers for this are appearing in greater number. One is encompassed in an experience that Alison, my wife, had the summer that the new market square first opened. Alison decided to get some lunch from Pret and eat it on the square. She sat down and started eating when an elderly lady came and began a conversation. “What a waste of money” she said “If I had the millions they spent on this I’d put it to much better use”, “moan” “moan” “moan”. Alison let her have her whinge, it was just another expression of the general undercurrent at the time. Then. Alison invited the lady to sit down. She asked her to close her eyes and just spend a moment listening. She asked her “What can you hear? What can you feel?”. The lady proceeded to describe the sound of the breeze in the trees, the splash of water from the fountains, the laughing of children, the ting ting of the tram, the sound of birds, people walking by, the sound of chatter. After a couple of minutes the lady opened her eyes and Alison asked “What do you think it is worth?”. Without a moment’s thought the lady said “PRICELESS”.

It only took a few minutes. It only took a pause and a moment of focus for a total shift in attitude. What is a creative city? Well it is one where those moments happen for more and more people. It is a city that has confidence in itself. Do we need to be told to be proud? It is something that we must feel for ourselves. A creative city allows, gives permission for its people to have those moments for themselves.

How often do you, reader, take a pause? It is truly amazing just what you discover when you do. Do it and see what happens.

Here’s more about our current guest blogger, Martin Knox.

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