Saturday, 12 March 2016

Performance, Display and the Negotiation of Power in Public Space



Explanatory Note. On 29 April 2004 I took part in thInterdisciplinary Workshop supported by White Rose Consortium of Universities held at Wakefield campus of Leeds University. I contributed a set of notes for discussion. They were on my old website which I have now closed because of the problems I have had in keeping it up to date. I have been asked to ensure that material on it is still accessible. 

Some Questions 

What are we defining as public space?

How do we differentiate between ‘privatised’ public space and ‘open’ public space?

When are buildings public spaces?

How have definitions of public space changed over time?

How have public spaces been used for performance and display over time and what changes have taken place?

What have been key elements in the negotiation of power in public space?

How have public spaces been managed in the past and what are the contemporary issues in management?

What has been the changing legal framework in relation to the use of public space?

How have law and order concerns changed the use and management of public space?

What lies behind the decline in performance and display since the Second World War?

Are there any remaining residues of the tradition?

What motivates the continued organisation of carnival processions in local festivals?

Do the public have a different view of what public spaces are to those in government (at every level) and business?

Public spaces for who?

Public spaces
• the street
• the square
• the park
• open spaces
• community gardens
• commons
• rivers
• canals
• beaches and coastline
• countryside
• National Parks
• Rights of way
• The role of buildings and their design in defining public spaces
• Monuments and statues
• Ponds
• Town Halls
• Libraries
• Swimming pools
• Public and community halls
• Churches

Performance:
• Street theatre
• Buskers
• Carnivals
• Circuses and funfairs
• Pageants
• Races
• Sport
• November 5
• Open air pop and other music festivals
• Historic re-enactments

Display:
• Marches and demonstrations
• Funeral processions
• Religious festivities
• Organisational events
• Commemorative events
• Military parades
• Remembrance Day
• Art
• Murals
• Statues
• War Memorials
• Banners

The Negotiation of Power:
• Peterloo
• Hyde Park
• Speakers Corners
• Enclosures of commons
• The Royal Parks, inc. Richmond Park under Charles I, Cromwell and Charles II
• Municipal activity to increase public space
• Ideology of the creation of public spaces e.g. Trafalgar Square
• Marches and demonstrations
• The stocks, executions and hangings
• Trafalgar Square and its three Ps: protest, pigeons and plinths
• Cable St
• London Squares
• Public space management
• Crime
• Anti-social behaviour and disorder
• CCTV
• Utility services inc. mobile masts
• Cars, cyclists and pedestrians
• Notting Hill Carnival
• Use of parks for events
• Safety and risk
• Children’s play and adventure
• Rambling and the right to roam
• Signage and street furniture
• Commemorative plaques on buildings
• New Year Festivities in Central London
• Riverside walkways
• The London Eye
• Conservation areas
• Demolition, redevelopment, regeneration
• The planning system
• Town and City waterfront areas
• Prostitution and kerb-crawling
• Tramps and begging
• Public toilets
• Playsites
• Street public phones
• Railway stations
• Disability Access
• Noise
• The 24 Hour Economy
• Street Wardens
• Museum charges
• Litter, graffiti, vandalism
• Flyposting
• Advertising
• Street trees
• Civil liberties
• Street trading
• Gambling
• Strikes and pickets
• Charges for use of sports facilities on public spaces

The Players
• The people
• Central Government
• Local Government
• Police
• Magistrates
• Businesses
• Landowners
• Developers
• The Armed Forces
• Friendly societies
• Freemasons
• Church groups
• Political organisations and campaign groups
• Charities, community and voluntary groups

Statues
• Hilda Kean (Ruskin College Public History) article 'An Exploration of the Sculptures of Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh, Scotland, and the Brown Dog, Battersea, South London, England' published in Society and Animals 11:4 (2003), looks at two public statutes and their meanings and the context of acceptance/conflict in terms of their siting in public spaces.
• The Trafalgar Square plinth debate
• Richard Oastler. When he died the Trade Unions and Short Time Committees in Manchester and Lancashire erected a memorial to him. 100,000 people attended the unveiling on 21 May 1869. (Edmund & Ruth Frow. Radical and Red Poets and Poetry. Working-Class Movement Library 1994, p. 58)

Public Meetings
• Illustrated London News 13 April 1872 picture showing agricultural labourers meeting underneath a tree at Witnash to organise strike action. (Edmund & Ruth Frow. Radical and Red Poets and Poetry. Working-Class Movement Library 1994, p. 124)
• The Wellesbourne Tree: Agricultural workers song set to Auld Lang Syne: ‘When Arch beneath the Wellsbourne Tree. (Edmund & Ruth Frow. Radical and Red Poets and Poetry. Working-Class Movement Library 1994, p. 122)

Banners

During the Great Dock Strike 1889:
• "The banners were a striking feature of the procession. First came a white canvas, on which in plain letters was set forth the demands of the men, then the banner of the Stevedores' Protection Association and lastly that of the Original Grand Order of Abstinent Sons of Temperance, bearing the words 'In God is our trust' and 'The Greatest of These is Charity.'" (Evening News & Post, 17 August 1889.)
• 'When all had assembled to join the procession the muster was estimated at between 60,000 and 70,000. There were several bands of music and banners were very numerous from the handsome and artistic productions owned by several lodges of the Sons of the Phoenix which took part to the mere sheets of calico, supported by sticks and bearing encouraging inscriptions rudely painted, which were carried by members of various trades, who joined the strikers from the docks.' (Evening News & Post, Monday 26 August 1889*).
• "There were not only dock labourers and waterside workers in the gathering, but men of temperance and provident societies, with their banners...' (The Times, Friday, 6 September 1889)

Friendly Societies Use of Public Space
• Foresters Regatta with Oddfellows from Putney to Hammersmith. (Labour & Unity, July 1870)
• Wandsworth & District Amalgamated Enrolled Friendly Societies met on 15 March 1888 to fix date of parade and which funds money to go to. Committee members included representatives of the South London Unity of Oddfellows, the Foresters and the Hearts of
Oak. (Unity, March 1888)

Public Protests and The Use of Song (see Annex)
(Several of these website references that were originally in the paper have been deleted as they no longer exist.)

Young People and Public Spaces
Dr. David M. Pomfret, University of Hong Kong ‘Lionised and Toothless’: Young People and Urban Politics in England and France, 1918-1940. European Cities, the Public Sphere and Youth in the Twentieth Century Conference. 

Contemporary Public Spaces
There is an enormous public effort through charities, and community and voluntary groups into preserving, conserving, managing and promoting open space whether parks and commons, canals and waterways, etc. These often link with the history of the spaces.
• Bankside Open Spaces Trust (South Bank London): www.bost.org.uk

Canals and Waterways
The Waterways Renaissance Awards 2002 started in 2002 by the British Urban Regeneration Association and the Waterways Trust partly recognise the years of campaigning achievements of members of the public in canal societies, like Forth & Clyde, in getting the canal network cleaned up, and improved for public leisure benefit.
The Trust is now part of the Canal & River Trust: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk

Government Policy on Public Spaces
Government Policy on Public Spaces was  on Office of Deputy Prime Minister's Site under Urban Policy..Now on Local Government & Communities Department website:
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-communities-and-local-government
£89m announced October 2003 for revitalising public parks and spaces.

Visual and Other Material
• Engravings .e.g. in Illustrated London News e.g. 4 July 1857. p. 6. Engraving of 'Great Open-Air Demonstration Against the Chelsea New Bridge Toll' - public space issue.
• Postcards e.g. the 1929 Godiva Coventry Pageant (May issue of Picture Postcard Monthly)
• Photographs
• Films e.g. ETV collection
• Newspaper accounts

Promotion and Some Connections
• Simon Fowler, Editor, Family History Magazine on public space themes. e.g.’ Did you ancestor take part in ....?'
• History Today article
• Other specialist historical journals
• Friendly Society Research Group
• Society for the Study of Labour History
• Local History Societies
• Labour Heritage
• Waterways Trust
• Proboscis – inc. Public Reveries, Public Spaces project: www.proboscis.org.uk
• Civic Trust: www.civictrust.org.uk
• Amenity societies
• Sensory Trust: www.sensorytrust.org.uk
• Policy Studies Institute. Green Spaces Report 2001
• The Living Streets organisation. www.livingstreets.org.uk.  Champions streets and spaces for pedestrians
• Noise: United Kingdom Noise Association
• Landscape Design Trust journal ‘Green Places’ launched October 2003 www.landscape.co.uk
• Joseph Rowntree Trust funded research projects dealing with aspects of public spaces. www.jrf.org.uk  . Search ‘Public spaces’
• Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens. www.farmgarden.org.uk
• Groundwork UK. Undertakes a lot of work to improve public space  
environment. www.groundwork.org.uk
• Open Spaces Society. www.oss.org.uk: John Stuart Mill, Octavia Hill. George Lefevre

Annex: Public Protests and The Use of Song
• Among the processions to Peter's Field on 16 August 1819 were female societies preceded by female bands. The resultant Peterloo Massacre is commemorated in With Henry Hunt we'll go (to the tune The Battle of Waterloo).
• During the campaign for a Ten Hour Bill in 1832/3, there was a demonstration involving 17 bands and hundreds of banners to Campfield by the Salford and Manchester Short-Time Committee. Children sang their factory song: 'We will have the Ten Hours Bill’
• In the campaign for the Tolpuddle Martyrs a broadside verse The gathering of the unions was used at the mass demonstration held on 21 April 1834.
• The membership card of the National Charter Association included the words God is our Guide taken from a song sung at a rally organised by the Birmingham Political Union on 6 August 1838, attended by 200,000 people.
• An early mass meeting of Chartists in Leicester in November 1838 attended by an estimated 3-7,000 people sang the Corn Law Hymn to the tune of the Old Hundreth. On 19 November at an outdoor meeting to officially adopt the Charter the meeting began with singing of three verses by the Corn Law Rhymer (Ebenezer Elliot) ‘God of the Poor! shall labour eat?’
• In 1875 in the village of Cherhill William Durham and his family were evicted from their tied cottage, and his 12 year old daughter excluded from the village school. The Union organised a rally in support of the family in a field and in pouring rain 1,000 farmworkers sang When Arch Beneath The Wellesbourne Tree.
• Alfred Linnell's funeral procession on December 18 1888 was one and a half miles long and comprised 120,000 people went from Great Windmill St, to Bow Cemetery. William Morris spoke. While the rain poured down 10,000 people sang Morris' Death Song to music arranged by Malcolm Lawson.
• In 1905 four hundred unemployed workers set out from Leicester to march to London to be welcomed at an SDF/ILP rally in Hyde Park against the Unemployment Bill. They set off amidst packed streets on 5 June 1905 to the tune Lead Kindly Light.
• One Sunday in May 1906, the police prevented the SDF from holding a meeting in front of the market Hall in Nelson. The branch Secretary Bryan Chapman and Ernest Marklew, another speaker, were arrested. Supporters stood outside the police station singing socialist songs. They were fined. In the Sundays that followed thousands went to hear them and other speakers continue to try and exercise their right to speak in the street. Chapman and Marklew were arrested again, and this time imprisoned. The following Sunday 5,000 marched to the Market Hall, led by the Nelson Old Band singing The Red Flag.
• Electioneering involved numerous variations of the same political campaigning song to the tune of Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, The Boys Are Marching. In the 1906 General Election in Hastings, where Robert Tressell, the socialist author of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists lived, the final Liberal procession with 5,000 people and a 54 piece instrumental band, sang: Vote! Vote! Vote!" for Freeman-Thomas!
• When Christabel Pankhurst was released from prison on 3 November 1908, there was a protest march to Holloway, by which time thousands were taking part half-a-mile long. Brass bands played the Women's Marseilles, John Peel, Men of Harlech and John Brown's Body', with the women joining in singing their own words to the tunes.
• During 1910 the suffragettes used bicycle parades to advertise meetings up and down the country. 'About a dozen men and women would set out on decorated cycles, heavily placarded with details of the coming meeting. They rode in file along the country lanes singing the Women's Marseilles, and when they arrived at an open space or a village green, they would dismount, and from an improvised platform encourage the local people to come and hear the distinguished Suffragette speaker.'
• On Emily Davison's funeral procession on 14 June 1913 from Victoria Station to Kings Cross bands played solemn music of Chopin, Handel and Beethoven.
• Just before Christmas 1921 large demonstrations of unemployed workers marched through the West End, singing 'workers' battle-songs, particularly the "International" and the "Red Flag", recalled one of their leaders Wal Hannington. On New Year's Eve 1922 outside St. Paul's their bands played Auld Lang Syne and the Red Flag.
• When the Poplar Borough Councillors were summonsed to the Council Chamber by the District Auditor to show cause why they should not be surcharged in respect of excess wages paid in the year 1921-2, a large crowd assembled outside singing 'The Red Flag' before getting into the building.
• When the imprisoned Councillors were released they walked through the gates of Brixton Prison singing The Red Flag to thousands of their supporters outside.
Page created February 2007

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