Friday, 16 October 2009

A sustainable Festival?

Tim Smitt, responsible for "finding" the Lost Gardens of Heligan and for making a reality of the Eden Project, prowled around the Garden Theatre stage for an hour yesterday - a Festival of Literature event - with the large audience in the palm of his hand. He is a man of quite amazing energy. And given that he said he wanted to kill negative people, I need to tread carefully with my "But.."

Employment for Cornwall? Yes. Educational intent? Clearly of central importance. Local sourcing? Admirable. Encouragement to travel to the venues by public transport? Certainly. Sustainability rhetoric? In spades.

But what Tim Smitt has launched are massive, disruptive activities. And they need the hordes to keep on coming in. How much do peoples' visits really change their lives for the greener, rather than serve to enable them to tick one more must-see leisure destination off the list?

And I have the same sense of dissatisfaction with the Festival of Literature itself. So many thought-provoking events; but so little potential for any coherent building upon the process within the community! Like animals in our different cages at the zoo, we are fed tasty titbits by people of ideas; but at the hour's end, when they've signed their books, off they've snuck into the Writers' Room, having left us without any mechanism to connect up to discuss those ideas in a coordinated way, so that something may come from them. A sustainable Festival surely needs to develop some mechanism for follow-up.

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