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Bristol Ideas 1992-2024: Introduction Simon Cook

Written by Simon Cook

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Fireworks at the launch of Brunel 200, 2006 (Martin Chainey).

Simon Cook introduces the Bristol Ideas book – published May 2024 – and these articles which look back at the work and some of the lessons of Bristol Ideas

It has been a privilege to help lead Bristol Ideas for nearly two decades as a board director and chair. What started as the Bristol Cultural Development Partnership in 1993 has always employed a small team but has delivered hugely for the city over the last 31 years.

Butcombe Brewery created a special Brunel 200 beer for 2006 and sponsored the project. Simon Cook enjoys a pint at the launch (Martin Chainey).

Since we were created, we worked not only in Bristol and across the South West, but also nationally and internationally on a range of cultural projects. These included the creation of new cultural centres such as We The Curious, help with the renewal of existing cultural venues, annual festivals such as Brief Encounters, Festival of Ideas and Festival of Economics, a biennial Festival of the Future City, and celebrations and commemorations including work on Brunel, Bristol aerospace, the First World War and the city itself. We also helped hundreds of smaller, though no less important, projects, gave much support to organisations and commissioned many artists, poets and writers to create new work.

There is much in which we can take pride from this as well as learn for the future of culture in Bristol. These articles and book, Our Project Was the City – our 31st publication, which is another example of our outstanding record – looks at our history by examining the different projects and areas of impact through the words of some of those involved and the wide ranging legacy of what was achieved.

Simon Cook MBE is a former leader of Bristol City Council, Lord Mayor and longstanding councillor. He chaired Bristol Ideas for many years. He is also an actor.

This essay is taken from Our Project Was the City: Bristol Ideas 1992-2024, published May 2024

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