It began when I was commissioned in 2010 by Rochdale MBC to publicise their locally funded arts organisations, which included a theatre group, a percussion group, choir, community radio station, a creative writing group, a community dance group and even a community circus.
After making enquiries with the local press, (The Manchester Evening News Media Group published local weekly newspapers in the Borough) I learned that The Rochdale Observer would be willing to take a weekly feature from me. The first article saw me and Robin Parker, my new partner in the now titled all across the arts team, turn up at Falinge Park Performance Arts And High School to interview students about their upcoming drama performance.
From that an idea was born. I had delivered one or two creative writing courses at the school in the past and a discussion with staff members Muriel Gott and Simon De Courcey saw an idea emerge that Robin and I would deliver a creative writing course, called all across the arts, which would deliver weekly articles by the students that would provide news, previews, interviews and reviews of forthcoming events in the Rochdale area.
For the next twelve months, ten student volunteers delivered 1,750 words (counted precisely), proof ready and to deadline. When they left the school they had also acquired soft life skills of precision, punctuality and politeness. They had learned how to research, affirm and accredit and they had all become well known amongst their peer group as enjoying a busy and fulfilling lifestyle.
Robin then moved on to publish a wonderful collection of dialect poetry and I took over the page in The Rochdale Observer, The Middleton Guardian and The Heywood Advertiser with my new partner Steve Cooke, and delivered a community radio programme sharing the same all across the arts title as the print pages. With Steve Bewick, I co-presented more than 100 shows on Crescent Community Radio turning the pages into an audio documentary with musical interludes. We conducted live interviews, and presented live musical performances too.
Four years ago, in 2015, I ´retired´ to Lanzarote. I retained my partnership in all across the arts, whilst Steve Cooke took over the running of the pages. Steve Bewick continued his broadcasting career with FCUM Radio.
My love of the arts, though, was undimmed and I now find myself producing this aata blog on an almost daily basis as well as delivering the same positive arts service to a Lanzarote that is similar in geographical size and population, but very different in climate, to Rochdale. I write weekly pages for The Lanzarote Information web site which is aimed at the new migrant residents and tourists to encourage them to take part in the vibrant arts and cultural events of the island. This aata blog brings you exclusive versions of news, previews, interviews and reviews that all across the arts already delivers to the Rochdale area in the UK and to Lanzarote, but from a much wider and more diverse hinterland. On the aata blog you will find music from pop to folk to opera, dance from Shakti to Zumba and literature from poetry to prose. You will meet new guest writers, see photography of wonderful events on an incredible landscape and hear podcasts from artists from many different fields. Even the archives will feel new and vivid as we re-contextualise the output of more than forty original songs from the nineteen seventies UK folk scene by Lendanear and the collected works of Just Poets.