The south and south east of England, as defined by the new regional government boundaries, is an area twice the size of Cyprus with a population about the same size as Austria.
So the prospect of re-locating Southern and South East Arts (SSEA) to a single office that artists and arts professionals from the far flung reaches of the region can get to without spending all day in the car or on the train is a sensible one ? albeit unpalatable to those faced with the prospect of moving house or changing job in the wake of the Arts Council / Regional Arts Boards (RABs) re-structuring. A quick look at the map confirms that somewhere like Slough would be ideal. At the heart of the motorway systems and a quick 20 minutes from London on the train, it is probably as close to the centre of this rather unwieldy region as you can get. House prices are pretty reasonable, given the proximity to London, and office space is plentiful. It?s also a place with a culturally diverse population, and plenty of social problems ? even better, for an organisation that sets social inclusion and cultural diversity among its top policy objectives.
The news, then, that SSEA is to relocate to Brighton, comes as a bit of a surprise (though of course it?s mightily convenient that the Chair used to be Director of Arts, Recreation and Tourism for the Council there). Right on the south coast, it?s almost certainly quicker to get to France from there than to Milton Keynes. It has been in the top five cities in the UK for house price inflation over the past couple of years; and whilst its population could certainly be described as Bohemian, the term ?middle class? wouldn?t be too far from the mark either. Let?s just hope that, the next time someone accuses the arts as being the domain of the white middle-classes, that SSEA has prepared a suitable response.