Culture and Community
There is currently a noticeable disconnect between how a lot of people feel about Totton and Eling’s cultural offering and what is actually on offer. The feeling among many residents is that Totton is ‘drab and characterless’, which is sharply contrasted with the huge numbers of societies, clubs, arts and heritage facilities that we have on our doorstep - statistically far more than other towns our size.
Engagement in culture is very sporadic locally, with our highly rated flagship venues of Eling Tide Mill and Hanger Farm Arts Centre sometimes struggling for support.
Our consultations and committee discussions on this issue have led us to believe that the biggest factors in this disconnect and lack of consistent engagement is our lack of visible culture and the fact that events can feel independent from one another as opposed to one part of the diverse cultural offering of the town.
We also, despite our many high quality venues, lack a ‘cultural hub’ in the centre of the town. Due to our existing patchy accessibility issues this means that some groups are far less able to access the existing cultural venues if they can’t drive, walk or have a bus link.
Initial ideas for the Neighbourhood Plan for culture and community
Defining a unique town design strategy to strive towards in terms of colours, planting, street furniture (e.g. bespoke benches), and public art
Designating a set number of areas for community projects in public spaces e.g. subways, street spaces, parks etc.
Designating space for a ‘cultural hub’ in the town centre i.e. arts cafe
Designating an area for an outdoor performance space
Encouraging busking and street theatre to animate the town centre
Things to keep in mind
Many of the elements in this section would be largely working within and with our volunteer-based community groups. The success of implementation would depend on the will of volunteers to make it a reality. But with a strategic vision in place to work towards, and support from the town council it is more than possible.
Designating space for a ‘cultural hub’ in the town centre would state a clear will for the town to have this kind of venue, but would still rely on a developer, individual or organisation coming forward to take this project through and set this up.