Recently Sutton Council held an event, ‘The Art of Suburbia’ to reopen the High Street. The funding for the 2 day event was £81,300 of which £36,000 was from the Arts Council, meaning that taxpayers living outside Sutton were helping the Council to indulge itself. The relaunch was not exactly as described with lighting columns left disconnected and lumps of tarmac crudely filling holes left along the pavement. Work was not due to be completed for another week, having run overtime.

The headline act ‘Trans Expresse’ (pictured right) were a French troupe of drummers whose piece de resistance was to attach themselves to one of the biggest cranes in London and drum in middair on a giant children’s mobile. This was witnessed by about 250 people on a cold, dark Friday evening. That’ll be £162.50 per person to watch someone hanging around on Sutton High Street, something people can do for free on most days.

On the Saturday, an extraordinary claim by the Council that 25,000 came to see the launch. I’m not sure who counted nor if the people that just came to shop (or even just hang around) were included in that figure. Nonetheless, even allowing for the most rose-tinted of spectacles, this appears optimistic. Those that did come witnessed a giant robot, some giant painting and a giant accident when a lady in a motorised scooter drove off the edge of a raised platform on the new Trinity Square.

Meanwhile the main local paper, the Sutton Guardian, were hugged closely by the Council who made them ‘Official Media Partners’, thus ensuring that the headlines that followed were favourable. Fortunately, the Guardian followed up the next week by asking residents what they thought of the overall expense.

The irony was not lost when reading the launch day programme which explained that one of the groups of performance artists were named “The Bureau of Silly Ideas.” (Too many jokes, too little time so I’ll leave you to add your punchlines.)