Throwback - Archive Highlights
Every other week from April 2018 we will post material from the archive here.
It is an opportunity for us to reflect on different concerns which arise from specific materials in the archive.
We hope to include guest contributors as well, do get in touch if you would like to share a memory, document and insight.
The film 'Skyline from Above':
Berlin: Tempelhofer Freiheit, Viktoriapark, Club der Visionaire, Görlitzer Park, TV tower, Kraftwerk, Spree, Kreuzberg, Sonnenallee, Neukölln. São Paulo: Anhengabaú, Viaduto do Chá, Banespa, Casa das Caldeiras, Praça Roosevelt, Casa da Cultura Judaica, Antena da TV Cultura, Av. Dr. Arnaldo, Viaduto do Sumaré, Skatepark Sumaré, Estádio do Palmeiras (Allianz Parque) , Vila Leopoldina.
Archive Highlight (1) - 04/04/2018
As a senior strategic project manager and board director in my 20's I (Trenton) worked on and pushed through a number projects that instinctively I knew were wrong. For example, I worked on the Connecting Communities regeneration programme in Spitalfields, East London. I was first employed as project auditor and then as a senior strategic project manager. The company was called Cityside Regeneration. The company was established to deliver a regeneration programme.
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On paper the Connecting Communities programme was a central government endeavour to address areas identified via statistics that were experiencing 'indices of deprivation'. It was a 5 year programme under the Single Regeneration Budget. The funds were delivered through local government - in this case, via the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
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This programme was particularly interesting as it used local organisations to decide not on funding priorities as this was decided by central government (health, employment, housing quality etc) but on which projects were funded. There were four 'area offices'; Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, Shadwell and Spitalfields. Community groups in the area would decided which of their projects got funding each funding round.
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It was an 'in joke' just how corrupt the process was and outcomes were. Everyone was involved from the community worker to the Mayor and up to the Government Office for London (GLA). Mostly likely it went higher but I never met a central government official/minister. While there were sometimes physical fights in the meetings, more often the deals had been agreed beforehand - "you agree to pass my project this time and I will fund your project the next round". It is important to note these were not small sums.
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Back in 2002 most people didn't have laptops, the internet and 'smartphones' so there were many computer training centres setting up- places where people learnt to type, get accreditation on different software such as the European driving licence (Microsoft). Believe it or not computers were not the main part of the economy back then. In my role as the project auditor, I visited a computer training centre to check on things. It was located in a disused school. I noticed there was dust on all the keyboards. Nobody was getting trained but the money was being taken for the salaries - and equipment would disappear quite often and then funds were needed to replace them.
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Another media company got a significant grant to buy top of the line new Macs with the promise (and contract) to train youth in the area on software to make films and learn graphic design. After one launch and one training event where lots of photographs were taken the computers moved from the ground floor in to the office of the media company.
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Around 2004 - the corruption was unravelling and the 'in-joke' was getting out of control. All of a sudden two people were arrested and two council staff members resigned. It appears that the stop it cascading all the way to the top these people were 'sacrificed' ...
"A council regeneration chief who stole money meant for a computer club for ethnic minorities has been jailed for 12 months for his role in the £150,000 scam. By the end of 2002, Abu had raised bogus invoices totalling £143,014. Nisar pressurised a regeneration agency to release large amounts of cash by claiming that not enough money was being directed at ethnic minority projects."
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These experiences were a significant motivation for me to establish This Is Not A Gateway. Deepa and I wanted to research these processes and try to understand them . Deepa, who worked on art projects on community estates while working at a university had experienced very similar corruption.
Later, Deepa and I founded Myrdle Court Press in order to publish material related to our research project. We have discussed our experiences in detail in the Critical Cities Volumes which are included in the archive.
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In the archive:
We have included materials from our different experiences in the archive. The images below (gallery which can scroll through) are photographs of the magazines which went through the letter boxes of those living on the fringe of the City of London - four times a year. These magazines relate specifically to projects I was involved in.
The archive which you can access at the Bishopsgate Institute includes the physical copies of these magazines along with documents from Deepa's own experiences.
The photographs on the covers and throughout the magazines were taken by Rehan Jamil. Rehan and I became instant friends when Cityside Regeneration office manager Elaine Sutherland arranged for us to meet up so we could talk art projects - something we were both interested in at the time. When we established This Is Not A Gateway as a registered not for profit company he was a company director. He was best man and witness at our wedding. You may have noticed all the good photographs in our archive gallery were taken by him!