14.08.09 'Is Ben's brass design a winner?', BBC Lancashire

An artist who wants to create a bandstand made of polished brass in one of the region’s parks has made it on to a shortlist competing for £500,000 of public money.

Lancaster-born artist Ben Long would build the bandstand out of sheets of burnished brass. He says the brass bandstand could resurrect a bygone era of public music performances in parks.

And he wants to hear from parks in Lancashire where it could be sited.
Today the Arts Council announced his proposal is on a shortlist of five artists competing to create a new piece of art to celebrate the London Olympics in 2012.
Ben wants to build a polished brass bandstand in a public park somewhere in the north west.

More than symbolic

He says it’s all about celebrating the golden age of grassroots music: “I have always been drawn to bandstands – they’re like islands in our parks and town centres. To stand inside one of these structures is to feel enveloped and connected to the past.” Ben’s design is highly polished and it will be lacquered so that it maintains that polish for many years to come.

But why a bandstand? “They asked artists to come up with an iconic sculpture or event that would somehow represent Great Britain and the area that we were competing for, so there’s 12 regions and because I was born in Lancaster, I competed for the north west.

“I was interested in bandstands, as I’d done some work on them already, and I felt that it really connected with the history of the area and my roots as a northerner.” The idea is that the bandstand would be more than symbolic: “It’s a monument to the bandstand and that past and our Victorian parks, but it’s also going to be useable as well. I think that’s really important, that we have organised events where people can come together and listen to any form of entertainment.”

The shortlisted artists will each receive a development grant of up to £5,000 to turn their initial proposals into comprehensive plans. They will present these to the artist panels in late September, who will then decide the final 12 commissions, due to be announced in October 2009.

The 12 successful commissions will be developed across 2010 and 2011 with local communities, and all 12 will take part in a celebration prior to the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

For more information about the competition, see the www.artiststakingthelead website.

Read the full story here.