Friday, 23 September 2011

Future-proofing Yesterday

Shed B - used during Tall Ships for performances

One word we have heard from everyone we have spoken to, is that any alternative plans for the Sugar Sheds need to be "sustainable". But what does that actually mean? Is that self sustaining? Environmentally sustainable? Sustainable through regular government subsidy? How do you measure that sustainability? In what way do you guarantee it? It is often a word we use indiscriminately without really thinking about what it means, more about what it implies. Certainly, last year it won the award for "most jargoniest jargon".

Maybe like with any good relationship, sustainability isn't something that happens, it's something you work at. The sheds are naturally separated, lending themselves to phased development. So the first year or two of a Sugar Sheds project could be much more about the refurbishment of parts of the building, undertaken as a local employment and training programme, resourced through local and government employability contracts, and potentially Heritage Lottery or Historic Scotland. These gradually refurbished parts of the sheds are the areas which could then be leased back to the community (at nice knockdown rates of course), to unlock funding resources from lottery and elsewhere, and subsequently used to run community based projects, exhibitions and programmes, or provide occasional performance space for local bands. Performance and recording space as well as a regular programme of gigs could be the basis of income generating activity for a social enterprise linked to the community organisations leasing the space...

But that's just off the top of my head of course. Needs a bit of thinking it sustainable enough? How do you do it? How do you turn the largest brick built shed in Europe into something that generates enough income to continue to resources the activities inside it? Can you do it at all?! Clearly if anyone genuinely knew the answer to that, we would have done it already. Therefore, we need to look elsewhere for our solutions. For us, a starting point this week was a very helpful chat with the Scottish Civic Trust, champions of Scotland's spaces and places.

The Civic Trust are running a conference on October 27th, "Heritage + Development = ?". The conference will feature examples of successful regeneration and redevelopment projects; examine government policy from heritage to planning and placemaking; and highlight the importance of community and civic engagement. Sounds ideal eh? We've booked a few places. We've also uploaded a few new documents to our resources page. Arm yourself.

There is no easy solution, and there is no straightforward guarantee that anything is "sustainable", our plan, for now is to start small with a range of activities and events next year, and for now to listen and to learn from others who have faced similar challenges and succeeded.

We took these photos a couple of weeks ago, but Scottish Screen have some much nicer new shiny ones on their Flickr account. Wonder what they were down scouting for?

Shed A - used as a bar during Tall Ships and the space RI are
happy to consider for short term community use

One final thing, slightly off topic, but indulge us. We genuinely believe that more innovative and experimental development of Sheds can create jobs and opportunities for the area. However, the building is safe and reasonably wind and watertight, they are not in any immediate danger right now; the Clyde Coastguard service is...and that service saves lives. So if you are in Greenock tomorrow, get yourself along to the march.

Public Protest March, Greenock, Sep 24th at 11am, Esplanade Cafe to Battery Park. Event here.

Banner Workshop at Fire Centre, Greenock 23rd 6-8pm. Event here.

You can read more details of this vital UK wide campaign on this blog.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Sweet Choons

Just a wee quick reminder to come see us tomorrow at Cathcart Square...have a chat with us about what you would like to see in the sheds, get a balloon, buy a book...go crazy.

To get you in the mood for the weekend, here's a wee sweet tooth playlist....

Thursday, 8 September 2011

There Will be Balloons

Members of the Sugar Sheds campaign group will be down at Cathcart Square in Greenock this weekend, with balloons, badges, books and bits of paper for you to sign. But more importantly, we would like to hear your views face to face about the sorts of things you would like to see happening if we attempt to fund an 18 month programme of events.

We were hoping to unveil our lovely new campaign mascot this weekend...but that can wait for now. Meantime, just come see us and say hello.

In fact, why not make a day of it..its Doors Open Day in Inverclyde, with lots of spaces open to the community, including the Custom House. Here's just two suggestions for you...but there are over 30 venues open across Inverclyde.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Guest Blogger - Joanie@8pr/8digital

As the BBC shifts Waterloo Road to Scotland and looks to invest further in the future, as we hear rumours of location scouts scuttling around Greenock checking out the views and as the new regional TV channels programme prompts a facebook page championing InverclydeTV, Joanie from 8pr takes a look at the history of Greenock and The Sheds on screen...


2011 and Brad Pitt is filming a Zombie movie (World War Z) in a Glasgow currently doubling as Philadelphia.  The Disney/Pixar team have finished their fact finding visit from San Francisco to gather detail on the terrain for their up-coming animation ‘The Brave,’ set in Scotland and telling the story of a Scottish Princess.  This puts Scotland front and centre in the movie world for 2012.  It’s come a long way from Para Handy’s The Vital Spark filmed in and around The Marine Bar and their boat “The Maggie” moored at Victoria Dock.

As a film location, Greenock has had it’s fair share of movie madness; the dock cranes in the background, like giant monolithic effigies to the bustling industrial feel of the town in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  ‘Just a Boy’s Game’ burst onto our TV screens in 1979.  It starred a gravel voiced Frankie Miller as Jake McQuillen, grandson of Greenock hardest man (Hector Nicol), who is losing his last fight for life.  The movies and plays through the years meshed folklore with real life to create characters still remembered today. 

An everlasting movie scene in my head is the wee shipyard worker who thought he was a gunfighter, pretending to shoot his colleague against a backdrop of the spectacular Greenock Sugarsheds and blowing the imaginary smoke away from his fingers before holstering.  Its just one of many scenes shot against the fine backdrop of Greenock’s industrial past.  The movie ‘Down Where the Buffalo Go’ (1988) was written by Greenock’s own Peter McDougall and starred the Hollywood ‘Pulp Fiction’ star Harvey Keitel as a US Navy Shore Patrol Officer stationed at the Holy Loch.  The Wild West of Scotland twinned with the Wild West of the US in gunslinger style is not an unusual likening.  

Elephants Graveyard – another Peter McDougall masterpiece - stars Billy Connolly as Jody, out of work and wandering the hills behind Greenock where he meets Bunny, who is pretending to his wife he’s a postman and is wandering the same hills aimlessly.  Jody’s happy-go-lucky philosophy against a backdrop of hopelessness runs through this Play for Today, and as always, in the background are the Sugarsheds and the all too familiar cranes.

Each movie and play shot through with negative and positive. Words like, gritty can be replaced by stoic; drama and struggle by real-life; with added touches of warmth and plenty of humour. Coming back into the present, I remember the screening of Sweet Sixteen in London.  I caught sight of my mother’s house on the big screen in a scene involving the Battery Park.  I leapt up and announced to amused cinemagoers “there’s my mum’s house!”  before slinking back into my chair like a crazy lady in the back row.  And let’s not forget the lovely, tender Dear Frankie with heartthrob Gerard Butler as the romantic lead.  You are in no doubt that the prime location is Greenock, with some exterior and interior shots in Glasgow.

No question that Inverclyde can offer a spectacular backdrop and that the Sugarsheds have played their part in movie history!  Are we ready to expand on that movie heritage?

You can find Joanie on facebook and twitter, or follow her blog right here.

Folk have sent us a few links and clips featuring the docks and The Sheds. We'll put them all up on the blog next week, if you've any you would like to share, or if you fancy a bit of guest blogging, drop us a line

Meantime...quite frankly any excuse for a wee clip of Elephants Graveyard...