Last October, without prior discussion of any kind, Bristol City council served legal papers on the Bearpit Improvement Group (BIG) and Peoples Republic of Stokes Croft (PRSC) for removal of all the community structures that they have installed in the Bearpit over the last 8 years. This includes the Bear sculpture, a full theatre and elevated performance stage, small commercial units and storage facilities to allow a regular market to run on the site.
Over 4000 people signed a petition demanding that the Bear and the community project she represents be saved, and we now have to present our case to a full council meeting on Tuesday 15th January.
We need your help! – but how?
1 – Write to your councillor
Here is a list of the Councillors who will be in attendance: List of Councillors.
A sample letter to go to your Councillor:
I am writing to express my shock and dismay at the council’s attempts to destroy the community experiment that has been running in the Bearpit since 2011 including the iconic Bear sculpture, the outdoor gallery and the recently finished performance and event facilities that the groups that built them have never had a chance to use.
Ursa Bear brings smiles to our faces. Like the other Bearpit structures she was built by volunteers with public money and represents creativity, alternative thinking and freedom of expression. The bravery and vision that led the council to declare the Bearpit a ‘Community Action Zone’ in 2011 represents the spirit that makes Bristol a wonderful place to live, and the secrecy, hostility and wanton destruction that the council has exhibited towards the community groups managing this project in the last few years is shocking and unacceptable. Ursa and the project that created her, represent community, creative expression and what public space SHOULD be. The vision behind the Community Action Zone is one of inclusion, tackling social problems at street level with direct interventions, in stark contrast to the ‘get the undesirable people out of sight’ policy that governs the council’s latest move. After years of building the infrastructure and resources to facilitate powerful cultural and community events in the Bearpit I demand that the community groups be given the support and encouragement to realise this vision.
The Save Ursa Campaign is about more then an artwork. It is a push back by people and a statement about the type of city we want Bristol to be. Don’t destroy this beautiful project.
2 – Send in a supporting statement and/or a question to the meeting itself.
Potential topics for questions/statements you may wish to send to the meeting:
- Why get rid of the Bear – one of Bristol’s most popular icons?
- How does the council justify declaring this community experiment a failure?
- Who made the decision to evict the PRSC and BIG?
- What plans are there to support the homeless people and those struggling with drug addiction who have been declared unsavoury elements to be removed from the Bearpit?
- Why evict this community arts group before any public consultation about what happens next?
- Since PRSC and BIG were driven out from the Bearpit it has seen an increase in violence and criminal behaviour, why pursue this creation of dead space?
- What commitment can the council give for the protection of Bristol’s cultural spaces?
- What message does BCC wish to give to community groups about the support they can expect?
- How do we explain this to the tourists who travel from all over the world to see Bristol’s famous street art culture?
3 – Make a banner with us on Monday 14th Jan at 3pm
Come paint, meet some people, have a play. Info here: Save Stokes Croft Culture – Banner making session
4 – Come to city hall on Tuesday 15th at 1pm and show your support
If you can’t make it to the meeting you can watch it on YouTube here.