Worthing’s got almost everything it needs to be an interesting town. It’s a collection of villages – Broadwater, Goring by Sea, Worthing old town and Durrington – which still have their own identities. It has some great buildings, mainly from the period between the wars when England saw new housing springing up like dandelions at the roadside. It has history – recent archaeological digs have dug through medieval Titnore Lane to find Roman buildings built over ancient roundhouses.
What it doesn’t have, though, is a clear identity. The tourist brochure produced by the town council clashes with the stuff produced by the town centre manager. There’s nothing to tie Worthing into the Sussex-wide picture, which focuses instead on picturesque Arundel, wealthy Horsham and heavily subsidised Chichester.
And Worthing doesn’t have an achievable masterplan for the future either. The existing masterplan has been nibbled into nothingness. The new swimming pool, currently under construction, has seen so many minor changes and shifts that it’s a perfect metaphor for how good development can turn bad for want of a few thousand pounds.
I’m not one to moan, though; I’m one that likes to do. So this year Made In Worthing will deliver an alternative tourist guide and a grassroots masterplan with 100 steps to make Worthing better. In the past the annual festival has showcased new work; this year, it will be based around a series of workshops, discussions and explorations which will help to make new work in a single weekend.
A pop-up ThinkTank on Saturday 24th September is the middle of all that activity. It will happen at FlashBang, Royal Arcade: artists, writers and photographers explore the town, create a website and plan for Worthing’s future.
A number of guests from outside the town have been invited to visit; each will be given a special local tour guide to show them round before the thinking starts. The thinkTank will be open for the public to pop in and contribute. The ThinkTank are Sophie Collard, Lloyd Davis, Leanne Foster, Gez Glover, Dougald Hine, Masa Kepic, Mark Scott-Wood, Dan Thompson.
And you, if you’d like to join us.