Has your town lost some of its sparkle in the last few years?
The recession and the rise of online shopping has hit our towns and cities hard. With rents and bills going up and the disposable income of your average shopper going down, out towns are feeling the strain.
That’s certainly true for my home town, Bedford. I spent half of my childhood and most of my teenage years here, so I’ve got a soft spot for the old place. It may look like a fairly average town in south-east England, but there’s a lot of history here and it’s one of the most multicultural places in the UK.
It’s been a shock to see shops that I went in as a kid back in the eighties close down. It’s like watching an old friend fall on hard times.
Fortunately for Bedford, two local mums are determined to turn this town around. Kayte Judge (here’s her guest post) and Erica Roffe (I still haven’t managed to catch up with her!) started We Are Bedford after a random meeting on Facebook. Their first event was the Castle Quay Weekender in March this year, where they held an arts festival in 7 empty shops. They followed this with the Big Lunch ( a giant picnic) and this weekend ( 23rd & 24th July) the first ever Bedford Busking Festival takes place.
The aim of the the Bedford Busking Festival is to launch Bedford as a busker friendly town, showcasing some of the best local busking talent as part of the wider Bedfringe Festival. Over 2 days, in 8 locations across Bedford town centre, 22 different acts will be performing. As well as musical acts, performers will include the likes of lion dancers, walking tours and even vintage hair stylists!
We Are Bedford is now a community group of people (volunteers, crafters, poets, musicians, photographers and more) who want to breathe life back into the town. In their own words:
“We aim to become a community collective for people who want to make a change in the town and to open up space for dialogue between the community, commerce and the council.”
Twitter: @wearebedford Web: wearebedford.co.uk
Photo: Shaun Armstrong