In its first four years of existence, when serving the arts scene in the Rochdale area of the UK, all across the arts grew from providing one page per week to The Heywood Advertiser to two pages per week. The organisation grew further by then providing two pages per week to The Middleton Guardian and The Rochdale Observer, with all three newspapers being part of the Manchester Evening News Media Group. The organisation was then granted local revenue funding with the caveat that we continue to provide positive media coverage of the local arts offer. That gave us the opportunity to apply for the funding for specific projects in which we could work with the community on issues of tolerance and awareness and the accumulation of literary skills through workshops with major elements of creative writing.

To ensure we were able to create the widest possible awareness of our work, all across the arts then launched a weekly community radio programme with me and Steve Bewick and, latterly, Steve Cooke as presenters.

Steve Hignett (left) with Dave McKeon

We were able to accommodate an array of artists live on the programme and memorable nights included performances by young song-writing band The Social Leftover, and by Steve Hignett of Pandemonium Percussion, with Dave McKeon. We interviewed poetry publisher Andrew Moorhouse, as well as a couple of mayors and several Councillors. We invited local authors like Adam Souter and poets such as Katie Haigh to discuss their work. As presenters we chatted ´all across the arts´, reviewed the arts press and occasionally played iconic jazz tracks. We were broadcasting to listeners in places like Montreal from a tiny shed-sized room down a Rochdale back street and it seemed like the universe was our oyster.

Whilst of course the excitement of retiring here to Lanzarote was intoxicating it was with a heavy heart that I handed over the reins of our UK dealings to Steve Cooke with the agreement that I would develop a synergy over here by duplicating the format we had successfully applied in the UK. Steve, of course, has further developed all across the arts UK, too, in that time playing an important role as a link4life board member for Rochdale MBC and establishing a complementary company in Stories We Could Tell, a title we had once used for a community project.

It has now been four years since my arrival here, and we are producing a weekly major feature  about arts and culture via the on line site at Lanzarote Information and occasionally in the print media in the monthly Gazette Life magazines. We have even been invited to chat about our services on Monster FM, a major European radio broadcaster and, of course, this work has been specifically addressing events and issues on the arts and culture agenda here in The Canary Islands.

Perhaps most importantly, though, we launched this all across the arts blog, Sidetracks And Detours in June 2019. We have in that short space of time created a pool of just under 20,000 visitors to our pages. This is largely because its presence on the worldwide web affords us the opportunity to talk about global arts events.

Over the last six months we have covered events and arts developments in Portugal, the UK, South Africa and Cuba and we know we already have pockets of readers in South Korea, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Cuba, Spain, The Canary Islands, UK and The Chanel Islands.

We can now use works we already have ´in the can´ to ensure we build on this already substantial platform. With that in mind we have designed several new series for introduction in 2020 that we are confident will please our readers.

Ann Cleeves

Words From The Writer will be a monthly interview with successful authors, including Rachel Abbot, the British writer of psychological thrillers, the Writing News Short Story Award winning Andrea Sarginson, Ann Cleeves, creator of the TV series Shetland and Vera, Debbie Howells, author of The Bones Of You,  Michelle Davis, a writer with eighteen titles on goodreads, Karin Rick, who created Twists Of Lust And Trust and Isobel Blackthorn, who saw her novel The Drago Tree, set on Lanzarote, re-invented as a best-selling travel guide.

Male writers will be offering us a few words, too, of course and we have already recorded interviews with Larry Yaskiel, a magazine publisher with two books currently in the bookstores, one telling of his former life as a music manager involved with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Leo Sayer and groups like The Searchers, and the other compiling the historical and cultural links over the last six hundred years between the UK and Lanzarote, many of which will amaze you. Miguel Aguerallde and Louis Brierley, are both prolific writers of science fiction and like all the others listed here are each already phenomenally successful. Poet James Nash is another name on that list, and we have other targets, too, with whom we are confident of securing an interview, including some aspiring writers we believe might go on to emulate the achievements of those listed in this paragraph.

Katie Haigh
talks to
Sidetracks And Detours

´Of The Arts Community´ will also introduce you to less high-profile stars whilst featuring reports on those who employ their nevertheless considerable artistic skills for the benefits of their neighbourhoods. In these articles you will meet people like poet and activist Robin Parker, local historian, writer, poet and musician Michael Higgins, and performance poet Katie Haigh.

We Are The Music Makers, is also be a new monthly series, looking at the body of work of late, great artists like Mickey Newbury, Kate Wolf, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and John Stewart.

We will also introduce Cathryn Craig, a session singer who went on to a solo career, and her fellow American female singer Katy Moffatt and we will also take an in depth look at the former leader of The Stormkeepers, Gary Hall, an amazing songwriter who recorded as a solo artist for the Roundtower label. This series will introduce us to the writers of works like American Trilogy, Across The Great Divide, L.A. Freeway, Waiting Round To Die and Daydream Believer.

Graham Marshall

News has always been a major ingredient on Sidetracks and Detours and we will continue to bring you all that becomes available from a wide range of arts disciplines, and new initiatives by the Cabildo here on Lanzarote and by other governing bodies around the world. The news will, as ever, also feature a network of artists and include submissions from some of our ´press-ganged volunteers´ like Graham Marshall with his specialist knowledge of classical music and Steve Bewick the jazz radio presenter. We also hope to introduce new occasional reporters such as Seamus Kelly and Alan Lawless, (look out for some of his jazz reviews).

Even this early into the New Year we have delivered extensive previews of the imminent 36th Annual Classical Music Festival to be held over a month long period across the eight Canary Islands.

Duo Cassado

Reviews will be posted soon of recitals by Cuarteto de Cuerda Ornati, Duo Cassado, Cora de Camara Ainur, Camerata de La Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra de Amsterdam and Orquesta de Camara Rusa de San Petersburgo.

Special interest features, like the piece we ran last year on the museum / house of the late winner of The Nobel Prize for Literature, Jose Saramago, will continue to enjoy prominence on our site. In 2020 we will explore other unique locations like the Cic El Almacen, and the theatre in the caves here on Lanzarote. We will also be offering unique perspectives of arts installations such as our nearby Underwater Museum and of those by Anthony Gormley, particularly of that on Crosby Sands.

Podcasts, and the production thereof, turned out to be a slightly steeper learning curve than we had anticipated in 2019 but Jim Loughrill, author of My Silent Voices, has recently given us something of a crash course. Sidetracks And Detours in 2020 will employ podcasts to guide you towards our re-releases and new recording of Lendanear material.

Hyperlinks are another tool we have not sufficiently or correctly employed up to now, but we promise to make our links more accessable and relevant. These links will become the Sidetracks And Detours that make your meanderings all across the arts even more interesting.

A recommendations page will become a regular feature in 2020 on which readers will be able to make their own personal recommendations to fellow readers about favourite bands, albums, radio or TV programmes, live shows and their best loved books. We hope you won´t mind if we chip in, too, with some recommendations of our own.

Arguments on the arts scene are a given, of course. Indeed it is part of the raison d´etre of the arts to spark debate so we intend to voice our arguments to support our opinions. We will occasionally spotlight decisions of government that impact on that scene´s effectiveness. In so doing of all this we promise to continue our desire to view  so called high and low art forms side by side, whether its radio or TV or live performance, whether it is painting, poetry or pottery, or dance or drama. We will continue to take the road less travelled and to find our way down Sidetracks And Detours as we continue our exploration all across the arts.

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