OBSERVING ART from near and far
by Norman Warwick
I need a powerful telescope form here on Lanzarote but via the technology of e mail and spotify and zoom I have been able to remain aware of arts activities on my old stomping ground in the UK. This week I spied through my little eye that radio presenter Steve Bewick has been a busy bee.
Steve has alerted his local jazz scene that Sam Stevens is now booking live Jazz acts for the Friday Dinner Jazz series at TNT – upstairs @ Tapas & Tunes Otley … if you are interested or know anyone who’d like to play & of course get paid for the pleasure please let him know at 07809 217474. The First Act of 2022 are Carioca Soul on 14th January (s left).
Mr. Bewick has also posted on his facebook page that ´In the cold and often wet December of 2021 I deposited a further of music files from earlier broadcasts of Hot Biscuits Jazz to my archives at www.mixcloud.com/stevebewick These included live recordings previously unused from Ocarina Be-Bop, Jazz Measure, Freddy Garner Q, SHL, Matt Owen Q, Paul Farr Trio, Jazz Crackers, AB trio and Zamani. Early jazz sounds of Joplin. Armstrong and Biderbeck etc. A live set from Rod Mason Q and finishing with a full broadcast feature on Chick Corea. If this sounds interesting then share it with your friends. For regular helpings of Hot Biscuits join us on Wednesdays, or Thursdays at 9pm, (GMT) or late Saturdays at 11pm (GMT) at www.fc-radio.co.uk
I can also pick up Steve Cooke´s reports regularly and have seen his stories on whats on all across the arts at The Rochdale Observer and have been impressed by the resilience shown by the local arts scene and by how Steve has lent such great support in writing about events and developments.
Steve, an experienced educator and creative arts columnist is curator of the ‘What’s On All Across the Arts with Steve Cooke’ column. he has created, and works alongside the AATA family of writers, putting together articles, news, interviews, previews and reviews covering local to global creative artists of all genres. His column is published in print twice per week in the Rochdale Observer, Heywood Advertiser and Middleton Guardian and quarterly for the Style Magazine It can be found digitally on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin and www.allacrossthearts.com
Steve is CEO of Stories We Could Tell, an NHS CCG funded project that works with creative artists to develop resilience in young people to the challenges they face and may face in the future through engaging with their creativity.
Steve´s previous 30-year high school teaching career 1974-2005. saw him become Assistant Head teacher of a performing arts school responsible for achieving its specialist school status. He was a frequent Speaker at education conferences and training programmes as well as being a member of government advisory groups. A level Sociology teacher with a MA in Education
.He is also now a trustee of Link4Life, Vice Chair of Rochdale Law Centre and Chair of Can’t Dance Can, member of the Rochdale Refugees and Asylum-Seekers Multi-agency Forum and Rochdale in Rainbows Steering Group. A former Justice of the Peace for Greater Manchester sitting 2007- 2018.he is now a Curator of the Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival Fringe Writers’ Showcase.
Stories We Could Tell (SWCT) HUB is a welcoming supportive, stimulating and safe space for young people to develop their resilience to the challenges they face and may face in the future through engaging with their creativity.
An asset-based community group that was formed in 2015 to provide a communal safe space for young people [members] with an offer that engages them on their terms, that is relevant and accessible and builds ownership.
Although SWCT HUB members include young people aged 11-24 who may have experienced traumatic episodes in their lives. such as: asylum seekers/refugees, looked-after, self-harming, self-medicating, autistic, bullied and abused our aim is to identify and enable them to develop their individual assets rather than focussing on their needs and problems.
Members are drawn from the whole spectrum of Rochdale’s diverse communities and many come to us through our social media presence and at the recommendation of our members themselves.
We also work closely with our partner organisations who refer young people to us including: #Thrive, MIND, CAMHS, Barnardos, local schools & colleges.
Members are encouraged and supported to work alongside professional artists and technicians to develop their creativity across the whole spectrum of the arts.
SWCT HUB has facilities and facilitators to encourage and enable members to share what they create in their own way, when and with whom they choose. Facilities that include: Café/Performance/Exhibition Space, Recording Studio, Internet Radio Room, Workshop and Training, Space.
Members are also given the opportunity, encouraged and supported to gain qualifications including Arts Awards, to access further and higher education and to seek employment and training. They are given a voice and the wider community are encouraged to listen through local print media, internet radio, social media, website and public performance. SWCT participants are also are given access to projects run by partner organisations such as Touchstones Museum and Art Gallery, Rochdale Pioneers Museum and Manchester University.
I remember him writing, early last year, about how The Manchester International Arts Festival (MIF) 2021 included artists from across Greater Manchester, who hosted monthly micro-festival events from their own home.
Later in the year I even read in Steve´s column that the MIF also worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company to deliver a ´Dream´ production. Theatre Music and ground-breaking technology combined, said Steve, to allow an exhilarating glimpse into the future of live performance inspired, as the diminutive title suggests, by Shakespeare´s Midsummer Night´s Dream.
Link4Life (now Your Trust), the Rochdale based culture and leisure provided support to help those Rochdale families with home-schooling needs. The trust created several wellbeing resources, including a series of Mindful Movement videos aimed a t providing virtual support for young people and virtual history lessons, taught by staff from the Touchstones Art and heritage Centre at the heart of the town, These sessions were made available every Wednesday covering a range of topics including Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire.
The nearby Bolton Octagon Theatre even offered a new digital production of The Picture Of Dorian Gray.
Another local theatre, Oldham Coliseum (right), delivered their award-nominated Teaching Theatre Pathways programme in the Spring with a dynamic six week course delivered via Zoom. This provided a great opportunity for young people to work with theatre professionals to learn new skills.
The Coliseum also presented a much needed and enthusiastically welcomed new season of on line events and experiences for audiences of all ages to enjoy. Using interactivity and digital technology they transported participants into different worlds and placed them in the heart of a story.
Other on-line events Steve covered included three artist´s presentation under the over-arching title of Art Comes HOME:
Bubbling Pitch by MSR FCJ, Bluegrass Fortunes by Joy Yamusangie and Our Plague year by Nick Burton.
Steve also reported that Rochdale writing groups such as Langley Writers, City Of Sanctuary and Touchstones CWG remained active through Zoom sessions and Bards At The Baum (who became Pegasus and re-located to The Flying Horse pub later in the year), still hosted by Robin Parker and Eileen Earnshaw, kept Rochdale folk and their visitors entertained with stories, poems and songs.
Meanwhile the Rochdale Ebor Art Studio (left) worked with Littleborough Arts Festival to produce a very popular series of on line workshops facilitated by Ebor members.
The Borough´s Libraries operated a Request And Collect Service enabling existing library members to borrow books even when the libraries were actually closed against covid.
These are just a few memories I recall from Steve´s supply of inspirational good news stories published during the darkest months of the pandemic. There is a debt of gratitude, of course, not only to those creatives who helped Rochdale through 2021 but also to Steve Cooke (right) and his team at all across the arts, and The Rochdale Observer that gives them a platform.
It should not be forgotten that in these last twelve months of covid crisis and confusion and conspiracy theories, there have been those, like Steve Cooke, calmly, but positively, assimilating and disseminating real arts news.
And as further evidence that the arts are fighting back, all across the arts also carried on the same page a positive theatre review. Manchester´s Royal Exchange Theatre in the UK (shown on our cover photo at top of article) recently managed to run a production (left) of The Strange Undoings Of Prudencia Hart, written by the award-winning playwright, David Grieg,
Steve Griffiths who covers theatre events for all across the arts in Rochdale´, described the play as a ´wild musical play that sees Scottish folk songs collide with decadent karaoke. The play, it is said also oozes wit passion seduction and sambucas.
It delivers an equal mixture of truth and nonsense as great music is played by skilful performers, and over this are laid memorable comedy sketches and physical exercises. Although the cast is also very good there is, however very little dramatic narrative.
there is a house point awarded, though, for the script´s reference to Rochdale which at least is evidence that the director knows the show is being staged in Greater Manchester.
Joanne Thompson takes on the role of the exacting academic, title character, who begins an incredible journey as snow starts to fall and vodka shots flow. This all is described in riotous rhyming couplets and stunning live music from composer Michael John McCarthy and award-winning folk musician Malin Lewis, as musical director, and the production also includes evocative folk melodies and the latest and greatest pop tunes in a rebellious, mesmerising mash-up.
On the night Steve Griffiths was in the theatre the audience, he loved its great energy and optimistic approach to the world.´
The production is now entering its final week and closes on Friday 15th January, so if you live in this region of the UK and would like to wander all across the arts, to a heavenly hell, check out https://royalexchange for details of ticket availability.
please note logo The primary sources for this article were written by Steve Cooke and Steve Griffiths for all across the arts and published in The Rochdale Observer. Other sources included Steve Bewick´s Hot Biscuits radio programme.
In our occasional re-postings Sidetracks And Detours are confident that we are not only sharing with our readers excellent articles written by experts but are also pointing to informed and informative sites readers will re-visit time and again. Of course, we feel sure our readers will also return to our daily not-for-profit blog knowing that we seek to provide core original material whilst sometimes spotlighting the best pieces from elsewhere, as we engage with genres and practitioners along all the sidetracks & detours we take.
This article was collated by Norman Warwick, a weekly columnist with Lanzarote Information and owner and editor of this daily blog at Sidetracks And Detours.
Norman has also been a long serving broadcaster, co-presenting the weekly all across the arts programme on Crescent Community Radio for many years with Steve, and his own show on Sherwood Community Radio. He has been a regular guest on BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio 4.
As a published author and poet he was a founder member of Lendanear Music, with Colin Lever and Just Poets with Pam McKee, Touchstones Creative Writing Group (where he was creative writing facilitator for a number of years) with Val Chadwick and all across the arts with Robin Parker.
From Monday to Friday, you will find a daily post here at Sidetracks And Detours and, should you be looking for good reading, over the weekend you can visit our massive but easy to navigate archives of over 500 articles.
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correspondents Michael Higgins
Gary Heywood Everett
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