As mentioned in the first issue of this year’s Fringe Review; we’ve been talking to some of the creative people Ventnor has produced, maintained or incubated over the years. To recap we’re heard from…
Sophie Honeybourne: a home-grown thriving Ventnor business owner and artist.
Steven Sales: Ventnor-born artist, now living in Bristol.
Kate Powell: Wiltshire-born, nomadic puppeteer and travelling theatre owner.
Hannah George: Ventnor comedian and script writer, now moved to London.
Luke Joynes: Island born, eighteen-year-old music promoter.
Jim Willis: Life-long Ventnor resident, builder, amateur film maker and historian.
(You can read the original interviews by clicking the names above.)
So we’ve had quite a collection to talk to this week. From those actually making things happen here on the island, to those that felt the need to take their careers elsewhere. Not forgetting the people that keep returning to create and facilitate art here in Ventnor.
Hannah (scriptwriter) and Steven (artist) felt it necessary to move away in order to build their careers further. Unfortunately, this is the case for many here on the island, but is this going to change?
While there is a clear demand for cultural music and arts events such as the Fringe, there are still obstacles to overcome when considering career paths for young people. As Luke Joynes pointed out yesterday, the costs of getting artists over to the Isle of Wight are far greater than putting on a performance in somewhere like Southampton or Portsmouth. This is also hindered by the lack of a student population. For those that have never put an event on, it is far easier to sell tickets to student populated areas as there is always an initial demand.
It seems that this problem is dependent on which career path you choose. On our first day we spoke to Sophie Honeybourne, who has been incredibly successful with her jewellery business. Though the price of sending parcels is far cheaper than importing people and the business is blossoming, it is still quite a small one. Sophie has one apprentice at present and would find it difficult to take on any more due to the size of their work stations and volume of client work. In businesses like these you can generate enough money to sustain a family or two but beyond that is another ball game.
Jim made interesting points to do with the property on the island, how large numbers of houses are bought by DFL’ers (Down from Londoners) that stay vacant from 48 weeks of the year. He posed the question that while, yes, when these holiday-home owners are present they spend money here but if these homes were filled with people living on the
Island for 52 weeks of the year, surely these people would contribute so much more to the community.
Is this lack of financial support to the community why our business can’t succeed? And indeed, is this why housing prices are becoming so increasingly difficult for people to match? Yes, the houses on the Isle of Wight may
be considerably cheaper than those of London but the work opportunities or salaries available to people, particularly young people are far lower too.
On the other-hand you have people like Kate Powell, that have only made a connection with Ventnor through the Fringe and have returned multiple times throughout the year to nurture art on the Island. In the Fringe Forum on Thursday, Jack Whitewood stressed the importance of nurturing artists that come to the Island.
As Kate is essentially one of these artists; she originally came to the Fringe as a volunteer. Her talents were revealed when she was working as a volunteer here and she has stayed in connection with the Fringe and Ventnor Exchange productions ever since she started out back in 2013.
We need more of these people here in Ventnor, we have more people than ever trying to build their careers on the Island which is fantastic, but we’ve still got some work to do before everyone can get on this band-wagon. Let’s keep investing in our Island’s creative industries.