The second Vital Places seminar in March 2016 was a fantastic opportunity for residents from Haverfordwest and the surrounding area to explore creative possibilities for regenerating Haverfordwest, and begin to ask questions about how the community and key decision makers can help improve Haverfordwest for the people who live in and come to the town.

Guest speakers Julian Dobson, Professor Paul Haywood and Rosie Hervey shared their experiences and reflections on the value of arts in regeneration in a series of presentations, which are available to download as PDFs by clicking on the links below:

Julian Dobson on past, present and future of town centres.

Paul Haywood on the concept of creative swarming as a means of community arts activism.

Rosie Hervey on her work with award-winning architectural practice, Studio Weave.

Following the presentations participants from all over Wales joined local people with an interest in arts and regeneration to work in small groups looking at the right questions we need to ask, and who we need to ask them of before change can happen.

Haverfordwest’s civic assets were key in discussions, with questions around who owns the town’s impressive buildings and spaces a sticking point for many, as well as the importance of pride in what Haverfordwest can offer.

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Suggesting what might be done to improve Haverfordwest, many people were keen to increase the sense of community ownership and civic pride in the town:

Look at the town and social spaces and see if any buildings or parks could be ‘adopted’ by groups, young and oder, and their ideas and skills could be used to enhance or bring them back into use.

Greater sense of ownership/civic pride.

Focus on ownership and reuse.

Others felt that the presentations highlighted the need for collaboration and skills-sharing between the community and key decision makers:

Very good to see arts money actually bringing together decision makers without a formal or previous interest in the arts.

Politicians/senior councillors who are champions of the arts, who see the vision and who can inspire their colleagues.

Working with council/planners to focus on community rather than developers’s profits and impoverishment of locality. Thinking of the future environment incl. pollution.

In general terms, the public bodies ar the bodies to lead on the physical environment, while community bodies lead on ‘people’ and activities. Works best when both parties work together.

With many feeling enthused about the future of Haverfordwest there was a palpable enthusiasm for change from an impressive turn out.

Featured image: The Indelkith, a project by Studio Weave from Rosie Hervey’s presentation