Perhaps we should now rename our campaign? Certainly we must refocus it!
I was up at Stourbridge/ Dudley/Kingswinford on Saturday for the launch of Charles Hajdemach's most excellent and erudite book, "20th Century British Glass" and The Glass Association Meeting had I believe a record turnout(over 70 present, with many names from this thread) to cheer the announcement, that the closure notice had been withdrawn and staff were no longer on notice for April 2010.
It is a bit ironical to see the Brown Tourist signs proudly announcing "Glass Quarter"when so little remains!
But the important thing is that it does still remain....and we now need to enter the next phase, so aptly put by Jonathan Glancey writing in The Independant back in 1994, just prior to the opening of The National Glass Centre in Sunderland (which sadly continues to lose money!) "When old English industries decline and fall, the towns that bore them turn first to the three D's Drink, debt and depression, then to heritage trails and shopping malls (think the Merry Hill Centre close by!), and garden festivals.
"The Glass Centre is a chance to put Sunderland on the map of international excellence in design and making of glass, from artworks to architecture". http://www.nationalglasscentre.com/
Here is what Wikipedia says about the financing....
"Since the centre opened it has failed to meet targets on visitor numbers. Visitor numbers of 100,000 per year were some way short of the target of 250,000 visitors per year. The centre receives regular funding from the Arts Council England - including one of Â£700,000 - prompting a National Audit Office report to judge that it was "over-funded". Despite this, the site continues to receive a quarter of a million pound grant annually by the Arts Council and the City Council and in 2002 was losing Â£100,000 per year. The problems of low attendance and overly optimistic income generation the Centre experienced have been shared by other lottery funded cultural attractions in the North East such at the Arc Centre in Stockton (which went into liquidation in 2003) and nearby Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art".
We have won the first battle, but the task ahead is immense, but not impossible. We must act while the sites of the famous Heritage are still visible and 1612- 2012, 400 years of handmaking in the area must be the theme, and we must aim to compete with Ironbridge. In 1998/9 it had 2.5m visitors bringing in Â£76m!
One of the things that needs to be done is to attract glass artists from across the country to come and set up studios there at attractive rents and rates, in the old sites and strive towards creating a World Heritage site of Glass making. This is where, inmho, The National Glass Centre did not succeeed fully. For instance the old glass making tradition of Hartley Wood Glass Makers, making stained window glass in the original way, that was there, is now in a steel shed in Alvechurch near Redditch, called English Antique Glass!
DBC needs vision, courage and deep pockets, and all the support it can get from glass mad fanatics like us to create a future World Heritage site capable of employing thousands, not hundreds! There is not even a decent hotel in the close vicinity, and the only conference area for the Glass Association AGM was the bonded warehouse alongside a neglected canal!
But as Ralph Waldo Emerson said "build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door!", and
"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm!"