You will have heard, I’m sure, that Perth is currently bidding to become the UK City of Culture 2021.
Now, before all you doomsayers tell me about the potholes and the closed shops please bear in mind that this is not awarded to the city with the shiniest steeples or the biggest museums. When the City of Culture panel awarded Hull the 2017 accolade in a unanimous choice, it was because Hull put forward "the most compelling case based on its theme as 'a city coming out of the shadows”. So, you see, this is not about where we’ve been or even where we are now, it’s about where we’re going.
We’ve been watching on with much interest from the Small City office; we like to think we chat to a LOT of different people and we have a good sense of all of the amazing events, shops, arts and sports that Perth and wider Perthshire has to offer. When I read comments from people who say ‘There’s Nothing To Do Here!” I am amazed.
Small City has an online events section that currently offers in excess of 100 events across categories as diverse as Arts and Culture, Sporting Events, Free Stuff and Family Days Out. These range in price from ZERO for family fright nights and award winning opera, to hundreds of pounds for an exclusive dinner party for your friends and family in one of Scotland’s oldest and most prestigious castles, The Black Watch. I KNOW there are things to do and I know we're only just scratching the surface.
The idea for awarding a UK City of Culture grew from the success of Liverpool’s year as the European Capital of Culture 2008, which had significant social and economic benefits for this traditionally working class city and which brought a renewed sense of pride to the entire area. So I'll say it again; this isn’t about bemoaning what we don’t have; it’s about celebrating what we do have. It’s about telling the rest of the UK, Europe and the world what the people of Perth are all about.
I know we have our faults and I know there are many, many frustrations but I also know that we are warm, funny, friendly, creative, talented, bold, bright, exceptional and ready for the challenge of welcoming the world to our wonderful wee corner of the globe.
We are the Small City with the Big Personality and I am firm in my belief that not only do we deserve this accolade, we would grab it with both hands and run wild in our exaltations with it – you only have to look what happened when Saints won the cup and when Murrays won the Scotch Pie World Championships.
We’re not Glasgow or Edinburgh or Dundee. We’re Perth and we are damn well fantastic in our own right. I see how hard the indie businesses of this city work, how dedicated the live musicians are, how much time the volunteers from all sectors give, how focused the sports clubs and athletes train, how vibrantly the artisans create and how much work is done behind the scenes by many, many people to ensure that in this population of 50,000 we continue to punch well above our weight on a national and global scale.
This entire bid is OURS! It belongs to the people of Perth – it’s yours and mine, and that of my friends, my nieces, my neighbours and my workmates. It doesn't mean you're lining up on side with the council, it’s not about pretending that everything is brilliant or nothing needs fixed. It’s about coming together as a city, as one group of proud people and saying “We want to show you what we COULD be.”
I am so very proud that here at Small City our team has always had this mentality; I could easily offer up anyone of our 60+ Big Personalities as a #PerthPioneer. Show you an arts section bursting with Horsecross, Pitlochry Festival Theatre and both Inchyra and Birnam Arts. We celebrate the silly and the special and at our very heart is the desire to show off the wonderful place that we all call home. In fact we invented the #PerthLoveFest to do just that.
For those who don't know us, we are an online magazine and I'd just like to take this opportunity to confirm that the reason we don’t paint scandalous headlines and write tabloid-esque stories isn’t because we’re blind to the underbelly of this city. Nor is it because I am a dud businesswoman – I know only too well that a few carefully chosen, mean-spirited stories or grumbles at the tiny bins (gotta be honest, it almost broke me!) would increase my page views by thousands. I simply don’t want to play that game.
I would far rather celebrate the positives and give our hard-won space in the local media to high-five the people who live and work here, who make big differences in small ways. I know we’re considered a bit ‘happy-clappy’ at times and quite honestly, I don’t care. I’d rather be looking up and forward, than down and spiteful.
We are galvanized in our belief that every last person in this city matters and so when we heard about the Community Cultural Celebration that is being held on November 20 in Perth we were only too happy to offer a shout out.
The organisers are looking for people to form a clan and join in this big, bold day of ‘Take A Look At Us'. Clans can be based on a place, a community or a type of cultural activity. They can be young old or a mixture of both.
So, for example, you might be part of a dance troop, you might be be neighbours or you could be in the same sports club. Perhaps you and your friends have a bitch and stich, a wine club or a poetry circle. Whatever your reason for coming together this is your chance to sing it from the rooftops and do it in full view of the city. (My mind is boggling!).
On the day, all Clans will gather and carry out a performance or activity in locations across the city, between 12noon and 5pm. Which means as well as needing clans to perform, the organisers are also calling on venues and locations to volunteer their space. This could be churches, stages, stalls, marquees or indoor spaces such as the Museum or Concert Hall.
The Clans will gather on Tay Street at 5pm for the grand finale where we'll see an amazing spectacle of all things Perth!
This is a community event and organisers are throwing down the gauntlet and inviting you to be as innovative and inclusive as you want in your interpretation of culture. If you need inspiration, the main themes of the City of Culture Bid are Great Green City, Fair City, Connected City and River of Light.
We’re racking our brains as I type – not really the best singers (although I think I’m Kylie after a gin or two!) we’re determined to enter a Small City Clan showcasing something fabulous. Come and join us!
Each clan will need to have a designated leader (I might be the boss but I bet a fiver #RhonaRecommends is ours!) and they will also be asked to design a flag or lantern which will be used as part of the event opening. The clan leader will then take part in the official opening. WHOOP WHOOP!
At a time when the whole world feels like it’s gone crazy (thanks largely to two idiotic blonde men) wouldn’t it be great to be part of something big, beautiful and united in a celebration of our people, places, culture, history and future? C’MON FOLKS – join in the party. #PerthLoveFest
If you would like to feature as one of the clans or would like more information about what is involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The bid team can offer help with finding venues and may be able to offer other support if necessary.
Find out more and stay up to date with the bid at www.perth2021.com.