And so I read that Bristol has been announced as one of Channel 4’s new cultural hubs. If I had the first idea what a cultural hub was, I’d raise a glass of tap water in celebration. However, I don’t, so let’s allow Alex Mahon, the C4 CEO to ask the Bristol Post to enlighten us:
“Diversity and inclusion have always been at the heart of Channel 4’s mission and the launch of our 4 All the UK plan is the biggest and most exciting change in the organisation’s 36-year history, as we open up Channel 4 to people from across the UK and supercharge the impact we have in all parts of the country,” he told the Post”. We will be spending up to £250m more on programming produced in the nations and regions and to catalyse that spend I’m delighted to confirm that we will be establishing a new national HQ in Leeds and new creative hubs in Bristol and Glasgow.”
Eh? You will not require reminding that I am a bit of a simpleton when it comes to business speak and when Mr Mahon, who is not a character invented by Roger Hargreaves (geddit?), says he is going to “supercharge the impact we have in all parts of the country”, I have literally no idea what he is on about. And when he later confirmed he was going to “catalyse that spend”, I gave up.“
But he wasn’t finished:
“In Bristol gives Channel 4 the opportunity to build on thriving production communities in the city and to partner with Cardiff and harness the power of the wider creative industry across the South West and Wales” adding that “The city also put forward exciting social mobility proposals to develop talent across the wider region.”
Far be it for me for me to express a little cynicism, but here goes anyway. This sounds like the latest invasion of the Hipster in our formerly fair city.
I am guessing that those who will be attracted to C4 as they “harness the power of the creative industry” will be people with man buns and long beards, with a Cambridge degree and the obligatory non Bristolian accent. They will probably move to ‘Bedmo’ and Lower Clifton (anywhere from Hotwells to Southville). If nothing else, it will be good for craft brewers and vegan restaurants.
I jest, although I only just jest a bit. As countless thousands of Bristolians (of all creeds, colours, races, by the way) struggle to acquire a deposit to buy a small garden shed, the Hipsterifcation (is there such a word?) of the city formerly known as Bristol goes on.
Yes, it’s good that some of the tattiest parts of Bristol have been tarted up (regenerated to you and me), although it’s hard to see how ordinary working class folk have benefited from these new “creative hubs”.
Bristol has ‘no go areas’ all right. Not lowly parts of the underclass where even police dogs travel in pairs, but the affluent areas where normal folk are not welcome or if they are they are not made to feel welcome. There will be barbed wire keeping the riff raff out of ‘Bedmo’ soon.
Am I exaggerating? Quite possibly. Am I employing a balanced argument? Only if you accept I have a chip on each shoulder. Do I despair how Bristol appears to be declining into just another place of smart pavement cafes, gourmet gastropubs, organic spice shops and clothes shops exclusively for rich people? Yes, but it’s already happened.
Luckily, “the power of the creative industry is here” as you struggle to find a job that pays more than the minimum wage and beg at the food bank for something to put on the table. Thank God C4 is going to harness it.