Daventry’s cultural future was the hot topic as an expert panel faced questions at the iCon Centre earlier this month.
Organised by Cllr Abigail Campbell, Cllr Catherine Lomax, Cllr Alan Hills, Chris Heaton Harris MP and Sarah Sims from Daventry & District Housing, the event was part of the three-week long Daventry Arts Festival which has seen the town and surrounding villages filled with three week’s of arts and craft themed activities.
The panel included Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris, Royal and Derngate chief executive Martin Sutherland, Laura Malpas from the National Trust, John Cairns from the Arts Council and Vicky Martin of the Canal and River Trust.
The debate was chaired by BBC Radio Northampton presenter Martin Heath and was watched by a small but passionate audience.
Cllr Alan Hills, the culture portfolio holder at Daventry Council, gave an opening address and each panellist spoke of their views on culture and heritage in Daventry before questions were taken from the audience.
Topics covered included a lack of infrastructure and venues, that the iCon centre is often underused and how more should be made of the history of Borough Hill, at the site itself. Martin Sutherland also talked about how the regeneration of Northampton was being led by cultural change and that every £1 invested in the Royal & Derngate led to a £10 return for the local economy.
Cllr Campbell said, “This feels like the start of something big. We know that greater access to culture and heritage has a positive effect on how people feel about where they live, and also on the health of the local economy.
“Many passionate views were shared and I was really pleased that a range of ages were present.
“There were some fantastic suggestions from the audience and the panel. I really hope that Daventry District Council and other local leaseholders consider the idea of giving short leases to creative businesses for ‘pop-up shops’, gallery spaces or studios in empty units in the town centre. I also love the idea of having a bandstand at the Recreation Ground.
“I would like to thank everyone who took part in the event, especially Daventry & District Housing, without whom Daventry Arts Festival would not exist.”
Anybody wanting to find out more about the next steps of improving culture and heritage in the district can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07989 421836.