Archive | March, 2013

Support your local indoor skatepark….Exist!

1 Mar

A skateboarding scene is built around the spots that are available. This can be the streets and architecture used creatively by skateboarders. This can be d.i.y. spots built by skateboarders using their own resources and ingenuity. This can also be council funded skateparks and ramps. Finally and currently most important in my eyes it can be a privately funded indoor park built at the owners cost both financially and in time spent. Initially the cost of building the park is squarely on the shoulders of anyone brave enough to attempt such a mammoth undertaking. The park then relies on paying customers to keep it afloat. Simple facts that I thought everyone grasped.

A privately funded indoor skatepark is largely a labour of love, as businesses go it is never going to make a fortune. I know from co-owning The Edge in Leicester that we rarely managed to make enough to pay ourselves even a basic wage. The money that came in through the door from paying customers went to paying off loans for materials, rent for the building, insurance, electricity bills, council tax and rates and this is all before any repairs and general upkeep.

For a large city like Swansea the council has never been forthcoming in providing a skatepark or facility of any quality. Not since Morfa stadium has there been a council funded facility that can be considered state of the art or reflecting the needs of skaters at the time. Morfa itself was the result of tireless work by local skaters and the culmination of years of attempting to work with the council to provide even the most basic facility. Swansea skaters have been forced to build their own ramps and facilities over the years and this has made the scene what it is today. Exist skatepark is the result of this attitude. It has been years in the making and is totally the result of hard work, dedication and passion. Ric and Kate have put everything on the line to make the skatepark happen.
support indoor parks

If someone goes out of their way to do this their effort needs to be reciprocated. The easiest way to do this is to go to the park, to pay for the privilege of having an indoor park in our city. A park that hasn’t just materialised out of nowhere but has taken years of planning, thousands of pounds of investment and hours of hard work. Every penny really does count to ensuring that the park survives, every entry fee, every cup of tea, every bag of crisps and pot noodle goes towards the next bill or sheet of plywood.

Working at the skatepark as I now do I have come across all kinds of amazing moments…young kids learning to drop in for the first time, people who could barely stand on a board when the park opened 18 months ago who now shred the place, skaters from the past who have dug out their boards again and hit the ramp…..friendships made. Conversely as with any gathering of young people I have seen some of the more unsavoury sides to youth….this is all good though. It’s always a learning process wether it be learning new tricks, sharing a space with others and generally getting on or respecting the environment that has been provided for you. The skatepark in it’s first 18 months has been all this and more.

This post is inspired by an incident at the skatepark where my belief that all skaters would share the same values was dented. I’m not going into any details suffice to say that trying to get away without paying isn’t cool for all the reasons laid out here. For the sake of a couple of quid is it really worth the hassle? It shows a lack of understanding of the sacrifices many have made, it shows a lack of respect for the efforts of others and worst of all it denies the skatepark the lifeline it needs to Exist. As Ric says in the interview below his goal for this year is to stay open. Buy that extra coffee, pay for your time in the park, get a sandwich in the park and not at Tesco round the corner…it is everyone’s park and everyone is responsible for it’s survival.