When celebrating a milestone occasion, it’s difficult to avoid looking back and reminiscing about past achievements and progress. Yet, despite the occasion, there was a palpable and prescient sense of things to come for the Bristol & Bath city region at the Initiative meeting last Thursday.
Alongside showing a short piece of film and heart-warming tributes and anecdotes that recounted the success of the last thirty years, there was in equal measure, animated and meaningful exchange about the future. It’s what the Initiative does best.
In the stunning new Weston Studio Theatre at The Bristol Old Vic Theatre packed with members, President of Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative Richard Bonner kicked off proceedings by focussing on the present.
The successful Channel 4 bid, the Global Parliament of Mayors Summit in Bristol and WECA’s delegation to MIPIM were all cited as examples of how “strong alignment, collective ambition and a determination to shape the future amongst city region partners.” is bearing fruit.
Past President Bob Durie duly attested to this, confessing to the audience that he still refers to the period prior to the Initiative’s inception as the city’s ‘dark days’. Stuck in a post-war stupor, Bristol was seen as a place where good ideas came to die he said. Best likened to a Victorian machine: full of cogs that require a lot of maintenance but get you nowhere.Andrew Kelly – Director of the Bristol Cultural Development Partnership & Festival of Ideas. Cabot Circus regeneration projects are just a small handful of the crowning achievements identified by Andrew that the Initiative had taken the lead on over the years.
And a number of members spoke passionately from the floor about how they had worked with the Initiative including Sue Turner, Theresa McDermott, Colin Skellett and 30 year old Johnny Smith.Bristol Guild of Guardians recognising the Bristol Chamber & Initiative’s achievements over three decades, the meeting then adjourned to the impressive newly re-created Cooper’s Hall for festive drinks and networking. Bristol’s International Jazz and Blues Festival kindly provided the Hopkins Hammond Trio who generously gave us musical accompaniment to the evening as members and invited guests reflected on the Initiative’s impact and discussed its future direction of travel.
30 years of building a better Bristol, Bath and West of England on one table! pic.twitter.com/9wHGdTl5kh
— The Initiative (@BW_Initiative) December 6, 2018
The event provided plenty of moments to reflect and reminisce, but what makes the Initiative a unique and special force in this city region is that it enables it to keep looking further forward.30 years out from 2050 we’re only just getting started.
Wishing a very happy Christmas to you all and I look forward to working with you in 2019.