Here at The News we are proud of all our annual presentation nights, whether it be the We Can Do It awards celebrating everything that is good at grassroots level in our communities or the Business or Sports Awards.
But there is one which gives us a particularly warm glow every year – The Guide Awards.
Why? Because it reminds us of the truly flourishing arts, entertainment and eating out scene which now exists in Portsmouth and surrounding districts – at all levels.
It takes an event such as last night’s hugely popular show at the Kings Theatre, Southsea, to focus the mind on what we have to offer.
Those who live outside this area often dismiss us as a cultural backwater. They believe, still, we are akin to an old-style midlands industrial city picked up and plonked on the south coast. With industrial entertainment to match.
Oh, how wrong they are.
Which is why we love telling the world this city and its hinterland boast a vibrant entertainment scene as good, if not better, than most other cities.
The rebirth of a flourishing arts scene and cafe culture would appear to owe its growth to another renaissance – the Renaissance of Portsmouth Harbour project which gave us Gunwharf Quays, the Spinnaker Tower and the Millennium Walkway. It also spawned a renewed pride, not only in the city but also over the water in Gosport.
Who would have believed 20 years ago that hundreds of people would be sitting outside cafes in the middle of January in a once run-down naval base, as they were at Gunwharf Quays last Saturday?
That development, along with the burgeoning university, seems to have instilled new self-belief in this community – a belief that anything is possible. From that have grown events such as the wonderful Victorious Festival (a deserved winner last night) and last year’s fabulous inaugural Southsea Comedy Festival.
The psychological health of a community is often measured on its arts offering. The Portsmouth area should be judged ‘very well indeed’.