Brighton’s Rainbow Crossing might not be over
Support grows for the campaign to make the rainbow a permanent feature on Madeira Drive
A campaign to lobby Brighton & Hove Council to make a temporary Rainbow Crossing on Brighton’s Madeira Drive a more permanent feature is growing in momentum, with increasing support on social media and influential backers such as Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas. The Rainbow Crossing is making the neglected east side of Brighton Pier more than just a car park, providing a vibrant tourist attraction that appeals to people of all ages and persuasions, and creating a safe place to cross an otherwise dangerous road.
With many motorists exceeding the speed limit on Madeira Drive, and with the pedestrian walkway currently cordoned off because of erosion of the walkway and road above, accidents are a risk. Recently, a woman was knocked off her bike by a pedestrian who was crossing the bike lane. However, the Rainbow Crossing encourages pedestrians to stop, look and listen and motorists to slow down, creating a traffic calming effect.
This issue was the primary concern of Neil Sykes, of Modern World Gallery – located in the Madeira Drive artists’ quarter – who instigated the Rainbow Crossing Forever campaign and has been liaising with Brighton & Hove Council.
Neil Sykes says: “The response from the public has been heart-warming to say the least and, although nothing is yet official, people have been able to cross a busy road somewhat safer than before. The average speed of traffic appears to have reduced significantly which, again, is something that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. I witness near misses on a daily basis, and dread the day that a fatality happens.”
He adds: “The Rainbow Crossing has uplifted the rather dreary Madeira Drive instantaneously, and has become a tourist attraction in its own right.”
Fellow campaigner, ‘rainbow warrior’ and JAG Gallery artist, Jacqueline Hammond, agrees: “The rainbow is working its magic in making Madeira Drive come alive. It is a prime example of public art and has successfully brightened up the beach, the road and the otherwise run down east side of the pier, making it more than just one huge car park. It was wonderfully apt watching the ‘I Charleston Brighton’ dancers performing their routine on the crossing while the proposal to retain it was being penned.”
Another local trader commented: “Our Rainbow Crossing could help bring much-needed clients to this otherwise downtrodden side of the pier, which benefits the businesses located here, and make the area more sustainable. Maybe it is high time to redevelop the whole east side of the pier.”
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas is an advocate of the Rainbow Crossing and supports its continuation. She said: “The Rainbow Crossing is a great tribute to the spirit of diversity and inclusiveness embraced by our city and it’s already clear that people really love it. I wholeheartedly support the campaign to keep the crossing, and was in touch with the Council at the beginning of the week to urge them to agree.” (see https://twitter.com/CarolineLucas/status/477227393493786624).
Negotiations took place on Friday 13 June between Neil Sykes, representing the Rainbow Crossing Forever campaign, and Brighton & Hove Council regarding making it permanent fixture. Jacqueline Hammond said: “Beyond Pride, everyone involved would like to keep making Brighton brighter. Whatever happened to rainbow warriors and CND symbol of peace? Other cities have grown to love this type of rainbow and realise its many benefits, while the creators have been granted permissions.”
The installation of the Rainbow Crossing was instigated to coincide with the release of the song ‘We Can Change’ by actress, musician and local resident, Helen Pearce. The song has been launched to celebrate LGBT Pride and champion equal rights.
The Rainbow Crossing, created by local artists from a diverse range of disciplines, from oil painter Caia Matheson who relished the chance to help create such a large-scale canvas, to street artists paving the way; JAG Gallery resident stencil artists Zeezee Twenty Two and Cassette Lord who has existing permission from Brighton & Hove Council to place his popular cassette stencils to brighten up ugly green electrical and telecoms boxes and other ‘street furniture’.
Neil Sykes “As for maintaining the crossing up until Pride, we have financial pledges in place from various local sources, including the Pride team. If jet washing is suspended, then I have agreed with all those involved in the original work that we would freshen it up as early as the Monday they’re due to demolish it.”
Plans are currently being discussed to establish a Rainbow Maintenance Fund, where donations and sponsorship from local business can help keep the artwork looking fresh.
Neil explains: “The plan is to give the Rainbow Crossing another coat of paint and maintain it until Pride, and beyond. We’ll supply the paints, the brushes – after all we host a community artists working from their studios down here. Furthermore we have been given support and sponsorship from Johnstones of Hove, who mixed and supplied enough paint at cost price to cover the large area of public road.”
Jacqueline Hammond of JAG Gallery, who has designed a range of deckchairs to display outside the gallery this summer, now plans to design a rainbow deckchair. The proceeds from this new design could be donated to the Rainbow Maintenance Fund… if Brighton gets to keep Europe’s first Rainbow Crossing.
Members of the public are urged to do what they can to save the rainbow. Firstly, to “like” the Brighton Rainbow Forever Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/brightonrainbow?fref=ts and be prepared for a sit down protest to stop the council from jet washing it away at 5am on Monday 16 June.
Don’t let the rainbow fade away.
Notes for editors:
Photographs courtesy of Andrew Roach of www.roachphotography.co.uk (please credit)
The rainbow – due for eradication by Brighton & Hove council on [16th June at 5am] – stretches across Madeira Drive from the artist’s quarter. It was created by Heather Peace, Zeezee TwentyTwo, Cassette Lord, Inky Biscuits Ltd, Caia Matheson, Sonia Canals, Julieanne Gilburt, Jag Gallery resident and local artists.
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