Friday, 21 November 2014

Negative Impact of RMBC + Foundation Records News + the Chit Chat

Apologies for the lack of pictures - still struggling to get Browser settings right in Windows 8.1   If you know how to fix this problem let me know!  

 The new Mashing Machine is installed, only took three days!  Lol    Let it be a warning to you that when downloading essentials like Flash And the Adobe Reader, make sure you go to the Official Web Sites – there are a whole number of sites out there with misleading addresses who’s only aim is to infect your computer with as much rubbish as can be thrown at it.  I had pop ups coming up all over the place and then once I had sorted those it became clear that certain system files had become corrupted.  The only thing to do was to mount a rescue through the full recovery facility, and that took an amazing ten hours to complete.   Then despite having all the programmes and serial numbers prepared, it took another full day to load the machine, despite the machine zipping through processes. 

But we’re into full or near to full action now!

So the Minister of Education thinks that Art is luxury! Reducing options at the end of University.   She has no solid evidence for this just a gut feeling, one that has little basis in the real World.   In fact it’s the artists who are trained to be flexible and imaginative, and have been driving force behind our social development and much that is good in our Society like music, paintings, sculpting, crafting and so much more.

It would appear that this is a concept shared by RMBC, who having guaranteed GBP 20,000 to help mount the Shakespeare Festival in 2015 suddenly decided that they had changed their mind.  Yes, yet another kick in the teeth for the young people of Rotherham.    What’s the Shakespeare Festival?   It’s a festival that is taken out to the schools encompassing 1,500 children in drama and the works of Shakespeare, culminating in a series of performances at Magna – sometimes the attendance at these can reach 2,000.

The Festival has received recognition not only the UK where it is recognised as a “best practice” methodology for teaching literacy, drama and bringing Shakespeare into the 21st Century, it also has enormous international recognition, with Katherine making a pilgrimage to Zambia to provide essential training, indeed in 2014 there was a video linkup where the performance were streamed into Zambia.  

The Council decision throws planning for 2015 into complete chaos.   Arts Council Grants depend upon support from local Councils, and Rotherham have withdrawn that support.  Steps are being taken to try and find other sourcing for the 20,000 GBP 

There is a Text fund raising appeal as well, and you can find the number on the RAE News page HERE

In my humble opinion is that RMBC should be hanging their heads in shame.  Their decision hardly demonstrates a commitment to Young People at a time when they are being blasted for having a Children’s policy that is somewhat lacking in its execution.  

There is some talk around the corridors of power that the Council be taken into special measures – they deserve it and I hope that the people who made this decision are made to pay for their short sighted approach to the arts and the children of Rotherham.  

This is not a case of not being able to afford to cover the 20,000 GBP.  The money had been budgeted and earmarked.   So well done RMBC, your decision making is once again flawed and nonsensical, and having seen the acting Children’ Head in action on the telly tonight I can see why such a short sighted decision was made; a pure I will because I can, mentality, and just you try to change my mind.    

 There is still time for RMBC to change their mind.  Find you Councillor HERE and send them an Email – and of course you shouldn’t let your MP escape either. HERE

And yet more Reports are published in the give Rotherham a good kicking Campaign.   The first, the Commons Select Committee blaming the Police and a one Party Council and a new organisation to be drawn into the argument OFSTED.  Then a couple of hours later OFSTED themselves publish a report blaming the Children’s Department of the Council. 

Of course the Council is telling us that everything is changing, that there is more transparency, yet we’re told that none of the known victims have been contacted by the Council or the Police – so no change there.  We’re told by RMBC that the Police and Social Workers now all work out of the same Office sitting side by side; all that means to me is that one floor of Riverside is now full of inactivity. 

OK Dicky is being a bit Nelson, seeing with only one eye, but I just wish that the Council would keep their mouth shut.  Confidence is not going to be gained by “words”, it’s the visible signs of ACTION that will count.

In equal measure the same applies to Police.  Based upon word of mouth evidence, it would seem that there is no obvious change in Police practices or patrolling.  

But let’s be clear, while Rotherham takes the kicking, there are shock after shock Reports to come from Towns and Cities throughout the UK.   Rotherham is the tip of a very deep and big iceberg.

Confused?   You certainly will be by the end of the year, we’ve still got some big ones to come, and none of them will be good news for the Town. 

Roy Blackman is a South Yorkshire / Rotherham treasure.   He’s not going to be about forever.   So on Tuesday it was a pleasure to go along to the launch of Roy’s second CD “A Northern Life” at The Bridge.   Rather a disappointing turn out again with poets and some expected musicians missing.  It’s such a pity for whatever the reason for any falling out we need to support song writers of Roy’s genre, stories and political statements of South Yorkshire. 

We had a number of guest appearances: John Young who produced this CD, Ray Hearne, Paul Pearson, and of course that man of song David Kidman who did his usual fantastic job as MC.   I did have some nice pictures but they were on my phone, which I have lost.  Not a clever boy.  

Sat listening to his songs, some performed by the other artists appearing on the Bill, I was struck by the pictures that his lyrics paint, to the point where if you close your eyes one is watching a video, no more so than the “Bonny Reds of Barnsley” sang to the tune of match of the day and a celebration of when Barnsley won the FA Cup.

You’ll need to contact John Young or hunt down Roy for copies of the new CD. Baring three songs it’s all new material, and the three old tracks are taken from his first CD “Roy Blackman Rotherham’s Man of Memories” and you can get them HERE  The CD has nearly all the lyrics in the sleeve booklet.    Until the end of November, both CDs can be bought for 5GBP each with “A Northern Life” going up to 10GBP from the 1st December.   So make sure you snap up a bargain.

Wednesday was manic, with an ArtNav Meeting, Rebecca Moss at ROAR Talk and of course the ROAR Board Meeting.   It never rains unless it pours.   Lol   The ArtNav session was held with Culture Partners to pin down a few more guidelines for the Consultation Process that they are under taking.   I have to say I was disappointed by the number of practitioners who took the trouble to come along to the Meeting.  Indeed it was mainly the key organisations and a huge representation from the Youth Organisations, which was fantastic and added an angle that is often overlooked during these exercises. 

IT’S NOT TOO LATE to have your say.   If you would like to Interviewed during the consultation process contact Sharon Gill (The ArtNav convener) HERE

I really cannot under emphasise the importance of this Consultation process for the Arts in Rotherham and I’m saddened by the number of Arts related Organisations that are not yet engaging with the exercise.  Some the people are those who for various reasons don’t engage with the current Art Groups or for various reasons moan about the so called Rotherham Art Establishment.    Being a musician (loose term lol) I am most disappointed not to see representation from what appears to be the secret society called the Music Hub.  Two people have told me they were going to invite RAE – and over a near four month period I have heard nothing!   Rant on that one over. 

I really enjoyed the ROAR Talk given by Rebecca Moss.  Her work is to say the least different, and so detailed.  I always admire people with the talent to organise the brain to organise a concept into a reality and this Rebecca clearly does in the very finest detail.   One of her pieces of work was a poem written on the stem of a swan’s feather, so small that with the naked eye you stood no chance of reading it.  It was done, by hand, the finest of custom nibs bought from Japan.   It was a feature of the recent Exhibition at the Old Market Gallery.  More recently her work has centred upon experimental photography, her perception of a smashed up alarm clock has to be seen to be believed. 

I got out on Saturday night with Mrs Masher in tow.   It was good friend’s birthday, 60th, God how time moves on.  Somewhere between Masher Towers and Rawmarsh Trades and Labour / taxi to Fitz and the Fitz Bar my phone picked itself up and went like the clappers to a place where no one could see  / hear it!!   So a great start to the night out.   Mrs Masher of course was really useful by not having any credit on her phone!!!   Looks like an Insurance claim. 

Having suffered the Karaoke at the Fitz, some of the voices were excellent he adds in haste - we returned to Rawmarsh to catch the last set of the “turn”.   The second set started with a bit of Stevie Wonder, moving straight into the Fu Fighters, at which point Mrs Masher announces, it all sounds the same lol.  We headed home.   

Folkies, watch out for a number of top nights coming in the New Year.  The purpose of the concerts will be to raise funds to fight UKIP at next year’s elections both Council and General.  We’re hoping for one very special night where one and hopefully two of the lefts legends will be appearing.  That excludes The Masher, who might go into pain killing overload to make an appearance at one of the concerts.  

There are series of warm up concerts coming at St Jame’s Hall on the 29th November, featuring John Young, The Young O’ Two’s, The Ley Brothers and the Choir of Singing for Fun under the the Leadership of Phoebe, + other special guests they say.  

All funds raised will be spent on Campaigns against those organisations that seek to divide the people of Rotherham.   Rotherham’s strength lays in it’s unity.  

We also hope to have a rock event featuring Rotherham Bands, the last at the Rugby Club, while successful, I believe, could have done with one or two truly local Bands.    

Mick has been rubbing shoulders with the likes of Robert Plant in Leeds but has reported that Sunday afternoon’s outing with System Of Hate at The Cutlers proved to be a great afternoon of music.   Keep an eye out for the Sunday concerts (this coming week it is Alvarez Kings, back by popular demand).   If you’ve not yet sampled a pint of Chantry Real Ale on a Sunday afternoon this will be as good as any to give it a try.   Good Ale slips down a treat with good music.

Some good news.  RAE have successfully joined up with MyPlace in Rotherham to put together the Foundation Records project.   Keen readers will know that we’ve been working on this for some time and having been directed up a couple of dead ends we’ve finally pinned it down.   Watch this space for how you / young people can get involved.   We will be looking to have auditions in the later part of January 2015 with the first recordings happening soon after that, so watch the RAE Facebook and RAE Web Site for the details as they become available.  

The final total going to the Royal British Legion from the efforts of the Something Special Hookers, reached a magnificent figure in excess of 700GBP.   Brilliant work as I never get tired of saying.

And so we move to the weekend ahead.   It’s the last weekend off for Live at The Trades before heading towards a fantastic four Gig build up towards the Festive Day.   Tickets for all four events are selling well, mainly because we have something for everyone.  Punk, Classic Pop Rock, the eighties and classic electronic eighties sounds.  We start with a real cracker, the UKSubs returning to Rotherham, and we have an amazing support, with The Shambolix, Systems of Hate, The Sons of El Roacho, Cambodia and Sneaking Stupidity all up for a real Party.  Check the poster for stage timings, and if you want a seat you’ll going to have to be early for this one.   Tickets are 11:00 GBP and can be bought from on Hotline Number 01709 719296 (Dickie lost his phone), the Trades (we still don’t have their number), Mezmerize on Wellgate, The Cutlers, and of course at Online with WegotTickets by following the appropriate links in The RAE Box Office HERE

This Saturday the Old Market Gallery is hosting a Makers Market, where amongst the stalls you will find Minx.  The Market opens between 5pm and 10pm.   Sonnet will be playing The Cutlers, while Resurrection will be playing SNAFU. 

Monday has Nellie Folk in it’s regular spot starting at 8:45.  

At ROAR Art Space, Westgate the Christmas Make is underway, you’re not too late to join in on the Christmas crafting ideas running on Wednesdays between 3:00pm and 7:00pm.  Not only do you get some great ideas and the opportunity to make them, but you also get to learn how to use all the equipment that ROAR has available.     This is the seasonal version of Project, Project.    

Also at ROAR the scribble walls are still very much in use, extending ROAR’s celebration of the Big Draw. 

All the events we know of can be found on the RAE Listings page HERE

And that just about sums it up for this week

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Chit Chat / Events / CSE InformTION

The weeks seem to be flashing by at the moment – before we know it Santa will be slipping down the chimney.

This could be last Blog written on this version of the Mashing Machine which despite a couple of software conflicts has been the most consistent machines I’ve ever had, in fact as far as the hardware is concerned I’ve never had a problem.

So well done to Zoomstorm, who have retained my custom for the new machine.

There will of course be a slowdown in services while I work out how to use the new machine and transfer all the required data and programs; a joy that I look forward to.

I have been well pleased by the response and the number of people who have taken the trouble to read the Child Exploitation Blog.  Thank you for your comments.  As a response to requests I have uploaded an information leaflet and a guide published by South Yorkshire Police listing the indicators of Child Sex Exploitation.   I hope you will find them useful.  You can find them HERE    For those who have not yet read the Child Sex Exploitation Special Blog you can find it HERE

While talking about Training – the British Council funded Active Citizenship Course still has vacancies.  It takes up a few chunks of time during the last week of the month and first week of December, but I can assure you it is well worth making the effort to learn new methods of engagement with Communities and Network.   Email VAR HERE for more details

Unfortunately we had to cancel the Dirty Dylan Show.   Making the third cancelled show in two months.   This time though it was down to poor ticket sales – and when I say poor I mean poor.   Such a pity as I was looking forward to a bit of Dylan, but clearly Bob is no longer the flavour of the Month, even amongst our demographic mid-forties audience.    Whoops, Mick will kill me.  The real reason for cancelling is that Bob could not get a flight……………………   

This comes after two packed houses for Live Wire and Lovehunter.  I’ve got to say I was really pleased with both audiences and at last we are seeing some younger faces coming through the door. 

While on Trades business, Mick and I would like to make it clear that we have nothing to do with the free concerts being put on for Friday Evenings.  These are being promoted by the Venue.

Please note that our ticket HOTLINE has changed.  If you want to reserve tickets for any of great shows coming up for Christmas call 07780373212.  While there may not be an answer every time the line does have an answer phone facility.    And for you internet savvy folks, you will be pleased to know that you can go direct for Tickets to WeGotTickets by selecting the Show you want on our Box Office page HERE   We apologise for telephone difficulties that you may have experienced over the past three weeks, this was due to the Trades being incapable of timing a telephone supplier switch – you really can’t believe it can you? 

Live At The Trades has a quite couple of weeks before we come at it “loud” with a “sick” line up of concerts and Party music to take you up to Christmas.   It’s a perfect antidote to all that Christmas shopping you will be doing.  We kick off with the mini Punk Festival headlined by the one and only UK Subs on the 29th September tickets are selling fast for this so get in quick.

As a total irrelevance, I’m currently in a state of high excitement as my birth Town team, and the one I supported from the age of eleven Gosport Borough play in the first round proper of the FA Cup for the very first time in their history.   This will mean nothing to most, but in my day we were lucky to get through to the 2nd Preliminary Round, and once I can remember getting to the 2nd Qualifying Round and that was marked down as a success.   So tomorrow we take on Colchester from League One at Privett Park, that well known bastion of non-league football.  Squeaky bum time, listen in on Sunday. 

A mention for the ladies that I refer to reverently as the Guillotine Squad.   The crochet girls from Something Special in the Old Town Hall complex have been very busy turning out crocheted poppies with all proceeds going to the British Legion Appeal.   Their efforts have been remarkable, crocheting into the early hours of the morning, with eye lids dropping to keep up with demand.  Over £350 has so far been raised on a £1 minimum donation basis.  I really do congratulate the ladies, sterling work.   It’s Christmas stars next.    We should plug the Crochet Workshop which now encompasses two rooms at the Shop.  £2 for chat, tea/coffee and sometimes cakes – bring your own hook.

A big week for Rotherham coming up.   Thursday 13th see’s two major events.  During the day the new Tesco opens it’s doors for the first time to the public.   That will be fun.   At tea time though the Community comes together for the big Christmas lights switch on in All Saint’s Square with G list celebrities of plenty to entertain you.   It marks the start of a magnificent run of events in Town running up to Christmas on Saturdays.  

To encourage you to come to Rotherham and buy LOCAL which I know you do, the Council has made all parking in the Town FREE.   I’d like to say that the Council is going to give away £10 local shopping vouchers, but they aren’t.   However, they have published a fantastic local shop brochure with hundreds of bargains to tempt you. 
We owe the local businesses of Rotherham big time following the disruption to their Trading caused by various demonstrations since September.  Even today the EDL are marching in the Town, but this time the Police have made certain that the march will avoid the Town Centre.   Interestingly the EDL’s target of the day is the Police, so that’s OK, oh and they want to shout some slogans at what will be an empty Riverside House.

Once again the Love Comes First team will be holding an event at The Imperial Building starting at 5:00pm, with some top talent.  Looking out of my window it promises to be damp and cold.

So coming up this week.

On Tuesday 11th the senior bard of Rotherham Roy Blackman will be launching his second CD.  I’m told it’s all new material.  The event starts at 7:30pm sharp at The Bridge with lots of special guests and old friends all appearing.  It will be a great night of Folk music and poetry.  And it’s FREE

It’s ROAR Talk week, with sculptor Rebecca Moss guesting.  The event starts at 4:30pm sharp at the ROAR Art Space on Westgate.   This series of talks from artists has been really interesting, and in my opinion well worth taking the time out if you can.

But before that on Wednesday ArtNav is Meeting at Riverside House kicking off at 1:30pm.  This is an important meeting for Arts Groups in Rotherham as we will be amending the brief for the Consultants that were appointed in October Culture Partners.    I really would urge practioners and administrators to make the time for this meeting.   If you have not received an Email invite simply send an Email to the co-ordinator Sharon Gill HERE

Besides all the festivities in Town, Thursday has the monthly Meeting of the Pitmen Poets in Mexborough at the Concertina Club.  Well worth popping along for a pint

Friday has the Fund Raiser for “The Victims” at Titans Rugby Club.   Tickets and entry is £10 for this event that has three top bands from Sheffield appearing.   The cause is important, so I’d urge you all to get there if you can.   However, I am disappointed to see that we don’t have a Band from Rotherham on the Bill!  Or at least a Band that is from Rotherham but say they are from Sheffield.  I know several local Bands are disappointed that they were not approached.   Perhaps the Rotherham scene can put their own event together early into the New Year, I’ll get Mick working on it.  HO ho.  

On Saturday the ladies of the burlesque will be performing as the Night Train pulls into the Trades.   Tickets for this event tend to sell out, so get yourselves to Mezmerize or follow the details link on the RAE listings page to book your seat on the train.  There are NO TICKETS at the Trades or via RAE who no longer collaborate with the event. 

Music lovers will find Crimson Moon at The Cutlers.

The full listings can be found HERE

So that ends the week nicely.  

Whatever you are doing this week, have great fun, support your local music and artist scene + local shops, and KEEP IT LIVE

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Child Sex Exploitation - a View from the Masher and RAE. The real issues.

I have published this as a separate News Blog  because I don't think it has a place amongst the usual banter of an RAE News Blog. 

On Wednesday I went to a Conference in Rotherham about Child Sexual Exploitation.  Not the nicest or fun subject.  The Conference was organised before Jay reported to Rotherham Council back in August.  It was suggested that Agencies were well aware of the problems facing many young people in South Yorkshire, and the Conference was a response to that and not Jay.

Jay has thrown the issue of CSE into focus in Rotherham so it was only natural to draw on the issues being debated across South Yorkshire.

The event was probably one of the most harrowing I’ve ever attended, topping even Rotherham CEO Martin Kimber’s bleak fortune telling as to the future of local delivery of services by Local Councils.

I was disappointed not to see many of the Voluntary organisations working with young people in the Arts unrepresented at the event, especially as the Arts and Communities lobby have played a leading role in facing up to the Right Wing backlash that has put so much pressure on the Town’s economy. 

Before I go on let me say that I do get The Love Comes First movement in Rotherham and the need to celebrate the diverse cultures of the Town however I look at the active members and the artists involved, some for whom I have nothing but the highest respect, and wonder if we are not falling through the trap door of “tokenism”.   The ethnic mix certainly does not represent the multicultural nature of the Town.  Some of the victims have already said they have no wish to be used as political footballs and I think that has to apply to the side of the angels as it does to the evil EDL / Britain  First / and BNP.  Do 1400 coloured balloons really go anywhere near to demonstrate what we as the Community of Rotherham are doing to put matters right.

The Conference drove home the fact that “Grooming” can happen to anyone, rich or poor, Muslim or Christian, Atheist or Believer.   No child is immune from the risk.   I think a lot of us are guilty of making huge assumptions and in our feeble attempt to rationalise the unthinkable draw our own pictures of what CSE is about.  

To illustrate this a Lady from one of the Muslim organisations for Muslim women told of the horrific number of young women coming to her for advise and help and the same applies across most of the Agencies in Rotherham.

We hear about politicians resigning, Police Commissioners chased out of Office, Council Officials given the order of the Golden Handshake, etc and nod our heads in agreement, yet none of us take our share of the responsibility, or see the role we played in ignoring the CSE. 

We also run the risk of assuming that now that Jay has reported all is well in the garden, it isn’t – The Police and other statuary Agencies are still struggling to come to terms with a culture that truly protects the children of our Town from the Groomers and child sex exploiters.  It has also to be said that they also have the problem of regaining the confidence of the young people and their families. 

We all have a responsibility to protect the young people of the Borough and we all need to be alive to the indicators of CSE.  I think that is why I’m disappointed about who was not at the Conference, without the essential information and training that was passed on how can we protect our young volunteers or those young people involved in our Events and productions. 

I dare anyone to sit through the talk that was given by a young woman named as Emma at the Conference and not be outraged.  She did not come from an economically challenged family, indeed broadly speaking one might say she had been Middle Class, a successful student and lively young 12 year old when she was groomed.

And she was frank about her motives.  She found the experience exciting, she quickly fell into the trap of being sucked in by expensive gifts and the attention of older boyfriends who would take her for drives etc.. 

It took a year before the sexual exploitation began and when it did she rationalised it.  I think delegates were shocked by what and where the sex acts took place, and the time of night / morning they occurred.

Perhaps delegates were shocked by the fact that at the time she did not want to be rescued. 

Emma survived, thanks to her Parents who had the money to find the right help and send her abroad for over a year to take her out of the culture she had become a part of and accepted so readily. 

As Emma said, she was a child, and even though she wanted and was excited by being treated as an adult, she was still a fourteen year old girl and yet Police and Agencies failed to protect her! 

For me the most heart breaking line, yet made me so angry was the last Report she got from her Headmaster on being removed from School at the age of fourteen – and keep that in your mind as you read what comes next, the girl was only fourteen.  “This girl is a trouble maker and a child prostitute”.    Try to remember those words when going home after a late event and see a young girl / boy walking around Town, or during the daytime when we know they should be in School – and take on the responsibility of making sure that the relevant authorities are informed.   You ARE NOT INTERFEREING it’s better that you be told that the child was simply going to the dentist or walking home from a party at a friend’s house than allow them to fall further into the clutches of the criminals who may be using them.

As a society we have to take ownership of our responsibility to our young people, and that means YOU – ME and everyone we know.  Do not, do not, leave it all to the Agencies and Police. 

The day certainly had an impact on me, as you might be able to tell, it informed my ignorance and preconceived ideas as well as bringing into sharp focus many of the thoughts I had been having yet up to now unable to put a heavy finger on.  Jay has probably not helped by putting what is a calculated figure out into the public domain, there could be more victims, and almost certainly any figure is currently being added to, so let us not forget what the 1400 represents and we as citizens of Rotherham have a lot to do to make our Town safe for young people. 

If you get the chance to attend a training course please take the time and trouble to go along and find out the facts and indicators for yourself.

That brings me to the end of my tirade or rant.   I might revisit the issues as more Reports are published in the weeks ahead.   You have been warned!