Wednesday, 28 November 2012

AGMs, Meetings, and some great stuff in December.

2012 seems to be zooming to a close.  Those feared words, “not too long to Christmas” have re-entered the language, along with the dreaded “after Christmas we will………”.  It’s also that time of the year when traditionally we start to look back on our year……..  BUT STOP ………   I am not going to fall into that trap, yet if I had a medal or two to throw around I would have run out by the time that the Open Minds Theatre  / RCC Ltd AGM had come to an end.

It’s simply incredible what OMTC has achieved in 2012, and hard to believe that it has been done against the backdrop of massive cuts in Arts Grants stretching across the entire Band of Funders from the Arts Council to local Government.

Once again the jewel in the crown was OMTC’s involvement in The Rotherham Shakespeare Festival which is one of the Borough’s finest arts projects, providing training for teachers through hundreds of Workshops, and more importantly arts activities for over 1,200 young people.   The project culminates in performance at Magna, where over ten nights an audience close to 3,500 attended, many of whom had not previously been to the Theatre or ever experienced Shakespeare.

The Festival is getting a National and International reputation and this year the live Webcast audience rose from 8,000 to 139,528, which is great news – and I feel very guilty that the Webcast passed me by. 

Colourscape in it’s various forms; Kids Can Do Project; Life Act (who performed brilliantly on The Diversity Festival stage at The Rotherham Show); there have also been some amazing developments pushing forward the Youth Theatre; The Old Market Gallery and acting as hosts to touring Theatre Companies as part of Cultural Olympiad, Theatre Wally from Pakistan being the standout; “Opus Hatch – He Wants to Friend You”, written by local writers Karen Mulcahey and Tair Rafiq. 

OMTC and RCC for a small Company do so much for the arts in Rotherham, pulling together Partnerships far and wide; it’s just a pity that our local media choose to overlook much of it.  Not entirely the fault of the local papers / radio or television as to be quite honest if it were not for attending the AGM or being plugged into what is happening  I wouldn’t have a clue myself.  We’re still not the best at getting our story out there.

Just an observation though, when there has been an arts story published by the Advertiser it’s often weeks ahead of an event, and when it has come to the week of the event, or the run of an event like a Month long Festival nothing!!  

RAE can’t complain too much though.  We’ve had more than our fair share of the Arts headlines in 2013 with coverage in The Star and Advertiser of all our main events if on occasions with the rider of the  above note.  Our media coverage can be found HERE

This week in The Advertiser though we had a sort of non-story.   Changes to the music local Licensing Regulations, essentially repealing the bureaucracy imposed by Blair in 2003.   Personally and for the average Band I don’t think it made slightest bit of difference.  To my knowledge, not one Pub locally closed because they were suddenly not allowed to promote amplified music, and I can’t think of a Pub that wanted to have amplified music that didn’t promote Bands because of the 2003 legislation.

Anyway, somehow half a page was taken up discussing the difference this would make. My line is that it would not make the slightest bit of difference.   Ironically, a Manager of a local live music venue that is about to be sold, I believe, into closure, says the change in the law will help local Bands to get more Gigs. Pub closures and the wind down in live music is down to many more factors than a Licensing clause that made little or no impact to my knowledge. 

Interestingly, OK not that interestingly, I gave that interview over a month ago.  One suspects that it was quiet news week for The Advertiser this week.

No danger of The Advertiser having space for “minority arts news” this week, our wonderful Council having either made complete idiots of themselves or been well and truly out played in the media game  giving the same “idiot” result.  One thing is for sure, someone will be losing their job be it in the Press Office or in Social Services.

And to those who say that we should what would amount to prescribing political parties I say be careful for what you wish for, many of the policies if not all the policies of UKIP are supported by Conservative Party MPs – so where does that leave us?  Fight and win the argument through peaceful debate don’t hit out at individuals who might, misguided as it might be, have joined what they thought was a one issue and legal Political Party.   

And apologies, we at RAE have still not fully tied up the 2013 dates for the Diary, but they will be with us very soon.   Just a couple of confirmations to be received before we can publish with confidence.  Should all be a little clearer at the end of this week.

That also applies to the changes to the Web Sites.  They may seem slow, but we are getting there.  Please let me know if the flash spinning things on the RAE Home page HERE slow things down too much, DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE.

T Shirts, to be specific, very smart Slamfest T Shirts, are currently on a not to be repeated sale price of £4.  Yes only £4.   Help Mick clear his attic and make way for 2013 stock by snapping up these colourful garments.  How do you get your hands on one or two? Shirts from all stages are available.  All the details are HERE.   Failure to do so will result in us sending around the John Lewis Snowman to leak over your living room carpet on Christmas Eve evening!!

An interesting development for the poets and story writing and telling followers of the Blog, the opening of a facility close next to Wilkinsons on Corporation Street called The Pop Up Story Book.   This has been set up under the umbrella of Inspire Rotherham.   I’m not one hundred per cent sure yet what the Shop will be doing but I understand it’s a base from which they intend to out reach literary projects, e.g.  as part of one of their programmes Michael Rossen will be visiting High Greave Junior and Infant School on Monday.  I’m hoping to get into the Shop for a chat with Deborah soon, meanwhile you can find out more at the Web Site HERE

Looks as if it’s going to be a busy build up towards Christmas.  But first two shouts for help from ACOUSTIC musicians.  On Saturday the 1st December 1:00pm the Campaign that is seeking to save Herringthorpe Field being developed by The Rugby Club  will be demonstrating on the field along with a Christmas bring and buy sale.  Anyone able to get down and bash out some chords will be more than welcomed by Tom and the organising Committee. 

Also on Saturday 1st  Diamond Velocity need transport to get to a Gig over at Barnsley.  Petrol money and a drink plus some great music is promised.  Band of four members a drum and an amp need to be shifted.  If you can help Email by sending a message HERE

And then on Saturday the 8th December The Button Tin in the Imperial Building on Corporation Street is holding a Christmas Arts Market + (and here’s the tempting bit) a HOG ROAST from 10:00am.  ACOUSTIC MUSICIANS are needed to make this a top event.  So shift bums, dig out the guitars and get into Rotherham Town for a real Christmas celebration.  Everyone more than welcome.  More details HERE

First Monday of the Month and over at Worksop our good mates Storm Trees are doing a fine job.  Julie and Richard are hosting an evening of music.  This week they have those old age pensioners called The Rogues and that young man Dylan Brierley will also be attendance.  A quality night.  It’s called The First Monday Club which can be found from around 8:00pm at the The Three legged Stool. 

It’s worth saying that Julie and Richard are unsung heroes for the cause.  Not only are they fantastic supporters of the Rotherham live music scene, turning up at more Open Mic and Jam sessions than even The Mashers in their hay and mobile days,  they are also a duo / quartet that go out and actively search out new and virgin venues to host LIVE MUSIC.  And of course they are talented – makes yer sick!   Lol

First Tuesday and it’s Folk at The Butchers, Braithwell.  And then for first Friday it’s the Christmas ROMP for the poets down at The Bridge, while they keep Playing On over at The Rutland in Sheffield. 

You can keep up to date with all the listings for December HERE as they come to my computer. 

Just to remind folks pictures from The Fringe Festival / Busking Day and Urban Pianos can be found HERE and of course the Slamfest pictures can be found HERE

Stay tuned while the Web Sites continue to be updated and hoping to announce the full RAE programme in the next Blog.   

Whatever you are doing this weekend, have great fun, support local artists and KEEP IT LIVE

Monday, 12 November 2012

Two into One: Fringe Wind Up, Ramblings, Moving On

Hard to know how to put this Blog together, it’s a week late and a current one is now due.

I hope it’s not because I’ve been idle but there has been a lot to reflect on since the end of the ROAF Fringe Festival, and yes RAE has already started to plan for 2013.  

So I've stuck two together.......................   oh you lucky people.............   

Been catching my breath after a busy week.  

Two fantastic evenings of acoustic music to report on which wound up the ROAF Fringe Festival for 2012. 

On Tuesday we had writer of “Dance on The Grave of Mrs Thatcher” John McCullagh topping a Bill of what turned out to be an evening of acoustic music.

By this point the Gremlins had positively got into the workings of the Fringe Festival, and absolutely nothing was going to plan.   On this occasion our guest for the night Alan McGee (he of Creation Records) had car problems which turned out to be lack of petrol; the Radio Interview had to be done on the telephone, and unfortunately John didn’t get his go with this; the PA system had not been prepared at the pub; and the Band we thought was coming didn’t turn up; there was also clearly some sort of communication breakdown concerning the nature of the event; and on the door, a majority of those coming in to be part of the audience claimed to be with John! 

It was also cold and wet, and the Pub ran out of beer!!!  

It was as they say NOT a joy of joy night.  

But hey!  There was some great music played.  Phil Sinclair turned in one of his stand out performances in difficult conditions.  Is it my imagination or does he get smoother with each performance.   Watch out for news of a CD soon. 

The fourteen year old John “Lennon” McCullagh, or John Jnr, in his public debut created quite a stir with his selection of rarely heard Bob Dylan songs.  It was a super performance from one so young and yet another talent to watch as his voice begins to mature over the next few years.  I’m sure he is going to be in great demand around South Yorkshire.

In between sets we had short bursts of music from Alan McGee on the DJ desk.  Thanks to Alan for making the trip from Wales to be with us, however, I sensed he might have thought he was coming to a different sort of event, and was really there to chat to John. 

And the main man of the night John McCullagh Senior produced a typically professional performance, the highlight for me being of course the dancing guys from Doncaster to “Dance On The Grave of Mrs Thatcher”. 

Despite the problems over the night it seems everyone had a good time with just a tiny bit of debris to sort. 

The final night of the Fringe Festival was a musical delight yet once again the day had not been one of the smoothest with first doubts about whether the event would be a worthwhile exercise given the general lack of support for all the acoustic events during the Fringe Festival; and then the weather making for difficult driving conditions as Sheedyfrost battled their way through the crashed cars and mist to be with us on Halloween Night. 

The evening was kicked off by Tina and Matt doing another of their technically fine and entertaining sets of Celtic based music.  True pros and true musical troupers.   And I mean that.  Tina and Matt turned out twice to play different material to different audiences, and in less than favourable conditions for performers, e.g. cold , damp and poorly lit. 

But the gem for me personally was to finally meet Paul and Vincent collectively known as Sheedyfrost.  In more recent times the boys have been joined by Bernard on Keyboards adding a new dimension to the sound.

To me the song writing and recorded music of Sheedyfrost is beautiful.  Their lyrics in the main carry a strong messages to which I for one connect strongly and their melodies are generally light and more than gentle on the ear. 

I’m told that the Cambridge Folk Festival at which they will be appearing in 2013 have been having trouble categorising the music of Sheedyfrost as quite honestly one cannot say it’s honest to God contemporary folk; it’s certainly not traditional; yet it’s not pop either – best to say that they are probably one of the best singer song writer teams working.

And their performance under the very difficult conditions in The Charters was magical; the ninety minutes they were on stage just flew past.

What a pity that once again the good people who make up the acoustic audience around Rotherham did not feel moved to turn out – even allowing for the poor weather conditions it was weak!

For some reason all the acoustic Concerts, with the notable exception of The Red Choir’s evening, were not well attended this year.   As a result we will be consulting amongst the folk and acoustic Community before deciding upon the acoustic content of next year’s Festival.

Indeed we will be consulting throughout all the art genres.  This year the Fringe offered a wide range of Productions, from theatre to the glitzy World of Heavy Metal.  We would have loved to included more genres along with considerably more ethnic involvement.  Anyone spot a theme from last year’s review? 

RCC and RAE have already come together to consider 2013.  We really would love to hear from you if you are a Leader of an Arts or performance Group, especially if you would like to have a production included in next year’s Fringe or would like to be involved in the organisation of the event.  Please Email HERE

RAE / Fringe would emphasise that the productions are completely yours.  As part of the Fringe Performance Companies can take advantage of our “on line” and ticketing distribution, as well as the media contacts we have developed, while maintaining complete independence over venue, pricing, and content – although help in all these areas will be available.

We are also considering moving the ROAF / Fringe forward by a month to September.  This would mean that the Busking Day would fall on Saturday 1st September.  What would be the general feeling about this?  Email HERE 

I had planned to go to the opening of the new Exhibition at The Old Market Gallery on Friday, but had to pass on the knees up as I had a surprise visit from my little brother and my Nephew………   given it’s the first time I’ve see them in around ten years, I thought I had better give them priority. 

The family had been giving Nephew Toby top reviews for his musicianship and general showmanship, “a natural extravert” – and I can confirm this, now that I’ve sat through a mini concert.  His Father is very relieved that he lives at the other end of the Country as he was showing great interest in joining in on Masher numbers.   His brains, my beauty, where could we go wrong?  His Dad would lose a lot of hair though.

You can check his talent, as late at night, he bangs out a Munford and Sons number at Masher Towers  HERE

I did get to the Exhibition on Saturday.  Wow.  I have to admit that my breath was taken away by the brilliant visual impact of the Alluvium Exhibition at the Old Market Gallery.  

The Exhibition has become an Annual event since a Group of artists Derek Allport, Paul Dearden, Rebecca Moss, Austin Pinkney and Ashley Clinton got together shortly after the Sheffield floods back in 2007.  The name in fact reflects the grainy silt left by the flood.

There are some wonderful walls of colour and interesting portraits along with stunning sculptures to feast the eye on and of course we must not forget the poetry wall which has been created by work donated from ROMP.

Saturday brought the real joy of the day a trip with Mrs Masher to the ……………  yes, The Club.  I’ll be glad when the results come in and I’m allowed off the lead again!!, and especially if Tytania happen to be playing.  For me, it was the same tired songs being performed not too well.  Heavily tracked, and a lead singer who managed to hit the first line of a song on only a handful of occasions made for some interesting moments.  The “Bed of Roses” number in particular jarred on this listener.    Excellent use of the lights though.

Meanwhile slowly but surely the Web Sites are being updated.  I am ashamed to say that the RAE Site in particular requires considerable work being done on it, and I hope to get this done over the weekend. 

However, you can get at all the Pictures from The Fringe Festival HERE and the slideshows will be available HERE on the Web Site.

The Fringe was RAE’s last major effort of the year although we are providing a bit of support to Leather Zoo’s outing on the 21st December at The Charters, a Euro Festive night of punk.  Not to be missed.  But never fear plans are already taking shape for 2013.  Under construction is a Festival for young people in the Spring, while Slamfest will be taking up 6th / 7th July and of course we’ll be contributing to the ROAF Fringe again, which we think maybe in September.  Let us know what you think about a September Festival. 

RAE will be holding a series of Meetings over the next few months.


The past week has not been quite as exciting as I’ve been catching my breath and recharging batteries. In fact it’s been a week of Meetings. 

It was fantastic to see so many people turn out for the Diversity Festival AGM, and without meaning to be condescending it was fantastic to see some new faces, and young ones at that.   I have sensed a renewal in the determination and activity within the Diversity Festival Team and all looks well for the future. 

There's a great little video of the 2012 event HERE

It was the same at the BOT Business Meeting on Saturday night to which Mick and I had been invited.  I think we all benefited from a better understanding that might lead to some positive and better collaboration in the future.

From other Meetings that Mick and I have been to you can expect big news in the weeks ahead as a super music programme is put together.

So much seems to have happened in the wider World, God has been re-elected, did the two candidates really spend $3Billion on their Campaigns?  What could we in Rotherham do with $3Billion?  Well, we could elect a new MP, following the demise of that naughty boy Dennis the Menace.  I had wondered why Dennis had recently been seen at so many Rotherham events.   Sad.  However, it has to be said that the House of Commons would not have imposed such a severe punishment on Dennis if his behaviour had not been so serious; this went beyond a difference of opinion on what constituted a legitimate expense.Not even a charm offensive would wipe the slate clean.

I also have it on good account that we can expect a lot more extremist right wing activity in Rotherham over the coming weeks.  To keep up to date with what is going on link up with Martin Hickman’s page HERE  You’ll be holding on to your seats as Marlene Guest will be doing all she can to embarrass us all.  This lady once left a message on my answering machine, the gist of which was not very Lady like. 

If I were in Rotherham Central I think I’d go for Ralph Dyson the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition Candidate who I believe is a Teacher of this Parish with a fantastic reputation you can find out more about him HERE

The Alluvium Exhibition continues for the month; don’t know what this is?  Then you should be getting yourselves down to the Old Market Gallery.  It really is another top Exhibition of local artists. 

This coming Wednesday 14th Carol Robson will be Officially launching her book “Words of Darkness and Light” at The Cupola Gallery, at Hillsborough in Sheffield, FULL DETAILS HERE  and if you go for a sleep in, the very next day, Thursday, Cupola starts their Print Workshop.  Details HERE

Thursday is also the big SWITCH ON in Rotherham – yes the Christmas lights are set to sparkle and glow throughout the Town.  Of course these days it takes a minor celeb or two to get the juices running into the lights so Join X Factor finalists 2 Shoes at this year's Rotherham Lights Switch-on Event! The fun starts at 4.30pm in All Saints' Square this Thursday (15th November). 

The full listings that we know of are HERE

Finally, rumours that RAE have made a £22m bid to Tower Hamlets, to bring the Henry Moore Sculpture Draped Seated Woman to Rotherham is nothing more than wishful thinking.  Lol  

Oh and advance news that Prog Rock fans may be interested in a weekend Festival at Magna scheduled for 6th / 7th of April.   Watch out for more details.  HERE

Just a warning friends that all the News might just be a bit fragmented over the coming weeks. 

Watch out for the meeting dates  - and if you attended any event at the Fringe Festival and would like to comment please go EMAIL HERE