Southend Borough Council’s officer in charge of the local art scene has admitted that ‘lessons will be learned’ after it emerged that the council recently created an alternative art scene, forgetting that Southend already had one in place.
A recent mass-marketing campaign for the Southend Charabanc festival has been met with outrage by a number of members of the local alternative art scene as it appears to be creating another alternative art scene – an accolade that many feel belongs to the long-established Estuary Fringe Festival, a festival that includes the word ‘Fringe’ to ensure that people notice that it is an alternative art scene, as in that it sits on the ‘Fringe’ of the established art scene.
Lewis Siko-Fant is the Southend Borough Council Head of Arts and Artistry, and he spoke to Southend News Network earlier today.
He said: ‘My department has launched an immediate investigation into how this could have happened, and we would like to assure the public that we didn’t intentionally set out to create a town with three individual art scenes.’
‘Myself and my colleagues lent our support to the Southend Charabanc festival as it sounded original and alternative – the word is French, and art doesn’t get more arty than French, does it? One of my junior researchers has only just pointed out the original Southend alternative art scene to me, apparently there is a painting of the Kray Twins somewhere in the town that we originally believed to be some sort of vandalism from someone with a lot of time on their hands.’
‘As it transpires, I have now discovered that it is a piece of art, and we were also shocked to hear that a number of local musicians can be seen in performance without having to spend a tenner to stand in Chalkwell Park with a very limited amount of home-brought alcohol.’
When we pushed Mr Siko-Fant about how the Estuary Fringe Festival should be recognised, his attitude became slightly more abrupt and bullish.’
He said: ‘I am going to recommend that the council-approved alternative art scene is recognised as the alternative to the alternative arts scene. Scientists will tell me that technically this would make it the ‘mainstream’ again, but I would say that the council will be able to make huge cost savings by merging the alternative and mainstream art scenes together – we need to make the best possible use of council budgets after all in this era of austerity.’
‘Having total control of both sides of a town’s art scene may sound like something out of The Sopranos, but we could definitely make it work.’
Southend News Network contacted Arts Council Britain earlier today for a definition of ‘Alternative Local Arts Scene,’ and they responded with a clear explanation in the context of a local government body.’
An ACB spokesperson said: ‘In order for an arts scene to be recognised as ‘alternative’ in the context of a local council or government body, gathered guests and dignitaries need to meet in venues that would be considered slightly more ‘hipster’ than sites used in the mainstream art scene.’
‘Regular opportunities should also be provided for alternative artists to be promoted to the mainstream art scene, perhaps through a league table system of ratings and promotion or play-offs like they have in the Football League.’