I attended the Portsmouth Film Society’s planned open screening last night as part of the diverse ‘Portsmouth Festivities’. I’m really impressed with how this events programme has developed over the years as part of the city’s growing cultural offer.
The event’s location was moved at short notice due to the expected number of attendees and then cancelled just before the proposed screening following police advice. Lots of unhappy people instead headed to the beach to watch the sunset over South Parade Pier instead.
Organisers of the event weren’t shy to bash the Council saying that as a community organisation run by volunteers they were expecting more timely advice and support from the Council. They felt let down with late notifications about the necessary licenses and event regulations.
I expect the responsibility for events like this lays with the organisers themselves, but it does raise important questions for me about the support provided and community leadership shown to small voluntary organisations, who give up their time voluntarily because they love the city and want to contribute something back to where they live.
The Council needed to be there or proactively get its perspective across on the organisation of this event and let residents know support it did or didn’t provide. If attendees had this information I expect they would be more assured and sympathetic to the advice provided, and might one day join or offer their skills and help out with such community organisations.
If the city wants to achieve it’s vision for the future, it needs these vital community organisations and active residents on side to make the ambitions a reality.