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Posted on 12 Apr , 2023

Komedia’s Richard Daws Visits Parliament

Komedia’s Richard Daws Visits Parliament

In March Komedia’s Richard Daws was invited to Parliament for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies Civic Voice on their session of Levelling Up Heritage High Streets.

Back in 2002, Komedia Brighton, a live entertainment venue in the centre of the city that had become a vibrant cultural and community hub, featured in a government report the then Labour Government released through a similar group called the Civic Trust. That report outlined how town and city centres needed to evolve and the presence of arts centres and community hubs acted as the catalyst for regeneration and offered masses of benefit to residents. That report inspired Komedia’s owners to look to open a second venue Komedia Bath in 2008, where they converted a derelict grade 2 listed cinema into a mixed use live entertainment venue. A business that was successfully transitioned into community ownership in 2019 with Crowdfunder UK. Daws attended the meeting and a committee room adjacent to Westminster Hall to share these experiences, the challenges Komedia had met and what impact the arts had on the cities it operated in.

The session outlined success stories from around the country, including Sunderland and Bromsgrove, where the Architectural Heritage Fund had backed projects. The common factor in all the case studies was that MP’s, local councils and the creative professionals had all worked together to create transformational change. At the end of the meeting Daws noted that alongside Komedia being at the centre of regenerations in two cities,  that he had recently been involved in the successful campaign to halt the proposed demolition of the interior of Newton Abbot. He was able to thank the Architectural Heritage Fund for the development funding they have provided for the newly founded Community Benefit Society. A group formed out of the Teignbridge creative sec

tor that was set up to bring The Alexandra into use as a full time theatre use and to be at the centre of a cultural hub for the district. The MP for Bath Wera Hobhouse attended the meeting and spoke in support of the work Komedia had done to benefit her city. After the meeting she shared on social media: ‘Pleasure to meet up with Richard Daws ⁦@KomediaBath for a discussion in Parliament on historic city centres and how to work together with local leaders, community organisations, and businesses to leverage our collective strengths.’

Daws ended the meeting with a challenge to Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, an Arts and Heritage Minister, asking the government to fund the arts in as structured a manner as it does grassroots sport. He left the session wondering what could be achieved with a shift in focus. It is what society needs and deserves.