Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Brilliant Events from Young and Old / Election moans / Groans / And Another Bank Holiday Looms

Last Saturday I made my way into Rotherham Town to join the young folks in “Taking Back The Town”.  

The event was organised by The Mix which is project of CHOL a Huddersfield based Theatre Company that is now working from an Office in the Imperial Building. 

I have to say, this was one of the most exciting Youth events I’ve been to for some years, happy, sometimes moving, but with a clear message to us all about embracing the diversity of our Community in Rotherham. 

The procession through the Town kicked the event off;   poignant given the number of UKIP and BNP volunteers who were out on the streets of the Town spreading their messages of hate. 

A real treat was the dancing.  The spectacle of seeing the Mayor and his Partner along with Rotherham MP Sarah Champion joining in the Dance will be a lasting memory.   Unfortunately it was just a little energetic for the Masher to join in. 

It was then onwards into the Imperial Building for more drama and dance before heading across the road to The Old Market Gallery where the young visual artists had their work exhibited – simply amazing the talent we have in Rotherham. 

Opera fro  All very talented and enthusiastic.  
m a rather rum looking selection of Youth Workers kicked of the musical interlude.

There were two highlights for me.  The first when a number of young people affirmed their loyalty to Rotherham in verse – and then an excellent song, first sung by a Band made up of young musicians from Rotherham and then repeated by the whole audience.  Excellent stuff.   Need to get hold of the Band, so if anyone has a number or Email please send it HERE

A truly creative and positive Event, illustrating the good things in Rotherham.  CHECK OUT THE VIDEO HERE   

Saturday night and Carnival of Thieves (watch out for a new CD coming your way soon) supported Dizzy Lizzy.  No prizes for guessing the music we rocked to – and rock we did, the level of musicianship and attention to detail was fantastic.  

Attendance was mediocre though, indeed around ten people who bought tickets didn’t bother turning up – they missed a good one.    There could be a whole number of factors keeping ticket sales down, and certainly the location at the Silverwood Miners Centre does not lend itself to a walk up audience.  So following the Kiss tribute on Friday 22nd May Mick and I will be completely reassessing future concerts at the venue.      Our programme at The Cutlers will go ahead as planned and will I suspect be added to. 

On Wednesday I went on a bit of road trip with The Pitman Poet and his lady to Wakefield for an anti-apathy event promoted by a Firm of Poets.

The event was held in Wakefield’s Unity Works Hall, an amazing Community facility in the heart of Wakefield in what was the former Co-operative Departmental Store.   A 600 seater main Hall supplemented by a smaller auditorium seating 150 both fully equipped with lighting and sound – bar and smaller workshop rooms are all available to the Community to use.

The project was partly funded by the Arts Council, the Council, the Co-op and public subscription, for a project costing £4m in total.  

The facility is one that Rotherham so desperately needs.  Besides the obvious use for the Arts in terms of Exhibition space etc., it would also mean that the Town would be able to attract a higher standard of musician etc. to perform in the Town.  

We do have the buildings in Rotherham that would be suitable for a full on commercial Arts project of this nature, but it takes leadership, mainly from the Council to drive projects of this sort, and Rotherham has unfortunately shown too often that it has no interest in the Arts. 

Wake up Rotherham and see what other Towns have achieved. 

As to the Firm of Poets event – well it was simply a fantastic experience.  It was well run, the performers, including the Pitman Poet all behaved themselves with regard to time and there was some amazing songs from Some Like It Ossett who provided an amazing finale with a rousing rendition of This Land Is My Land.  SEE IT HERE   

An Anthology of work by the Firm of Poets can be found for sale HERE 

And the new Pitman Poet CD “Love N Loss” is available HERE    

You can find the a list of participating poets and film of them performing their work HERE  

Just a note.  The event was free, yet the filming, hire of the hall etc must have cost money, or a truly coming together as an Arts Community.  Perhaps we in Rotherham can learn a thing or two with regards to funding and presentation.   I have often argued that we need one or two people to spend more of their time seeking out funding for projects or provide helpful advice to groups or Organisations who desperately need funds.  Perhaps something may be sorted when the Consultants eventually report back to ArtNav. 

Thanks to the Pitman Poet for letting me experience the evening.

And then………………………………….   It was Thursday!   Election Day.  A Day that started with so much hope but by 4am Friday had turned into a complete disaster. 

What do we make of a result that suggests the English have turned on the poor and under privileged, while swallowing so many half and direct untruths about the state of the Nation?  Of course we in the North held our end up, with a few exceptions, but the West Midlands and South East let us down badly once again.  

Scotland had been a write off for Labour since Ed decided to sit next to Cameron during the Referendum vote, but to lose seats in Wales, the total melt down of the Liberal vote, and the rise in the UKIP share of the vote (mainly from Labour ironically) did for Labour.   That comes down to a failure in strategy as these were well known factors in this election. 

Of course the main reason Labour failed is that the message was completely wrong. 

Here is the analysis that I published on Facebook soon after the result was known.  

“OK - Labour have failed. Not that it would have made a huge difference to our lives if they hadn't. What is clear that where a Leader was consistent, anti-austerity / anti Trident / anti tuition fees / fair taxes for the poor and chase the rich tax avoiders - won a huge victory and wiped out every Party North of the boarder?

Interestingly, apparently, the sight of Ed sitting beside Cameron during the Referendum had a huge effect on the way people voted in Scotland - the Scots have hated the Tories since Thatcher. 

Also Ed basically sacked a popular Labour Scots Leader in favour of one of his acolytes. That too had an effect.

Finally, on Scotland - to suggest that the SNP robbed us of a Labour Government would be completely wrong. The SNP within the Union are Labour's natural allies - Labour's failure was England.

Labour can learn a lot from the SNP.

This picture shows unhappy Englanders heading North to seek Political Asylum.  

In England we faced the choice of three austerity Parties, and many went with a Party, the Conservatives, who were absolutely clear about what they were going to deliver.

Labour failed to get their policies across - failed to expose the lies of the Government and media.

One positive, from the negative. Ed Balls has fallen into his own pit.

The Liberals were always going to be wiped out - selling out principles, even in the National interest simply does not wash with the great British electorate. Cameron hung them out to dry, and they have been punished. The most surprising thing is that Labour did not benefit from the Liberal melt down. Some seats that the Lib Dems took from Labour in previous years have now turned Tory - not good!
The UKIP push in Rotherham and other targeted seats never really materialised (Council Elections in Rotherham still to be published). In Westminster UKIP looks to have lost 50% of their seats. Just one remains. But their share of the National Vote is something to be concerned about – in the Council Elections, the hard work of the Anti-Fascism groups kept the UKIP gains down to 3.  That’s three too many but much better than many of us feared.   

Now I know that there are many out there, mainly in the media, who say that to move to the left will destroy the Labour Party. Not true. Labour now needs to go back to basics. But they wont. The Blairites need to be flushed out too many of the current Labour team are tainted by the Blair / Brown period.

Besides the politics of the Labour defeat, there is also a very serious organisational problem.  Target areas were not identified, Party workers were not mobilised in enough numbers and I fear that I could not recognise the passion in my locality for the election.  Maybe it’s because I live in Rotherham, three very safe seats.  However, across the Country I have heard the same, whole Streets not canvassed, Town centres empty of campaigners on key trading days, Election Day door knockers missing (no wonder the vote was not out).   Sometimes the old ways are the best – let’s say that if I had run elections like this back in the late sixties early seventies I would have been sacked as an Agent.   I think the whole of the Party activist and troops on the ground policies need to be reviewed and sorted.  

The next couple of years will be very interesting politically. But however, much that it may send the blood of us politicos into over excitement, it's the unemployed, the sick, the disabled, the working poor who will pay the price for Labour's failure. Local services will disappear, the queue for the Food Banks will grow - the Billionaire Club will grow.

And that's it, except for……………………..   well there were three songs that came to the fore -  one very old from Leon Rosselson HERE   -  one from Billy Bragg  HERE   and one from a group of unknown Buskers (if you know who they are please EMAIL),    HERE

But as we head into the Labour Leadership Campaign perhaps this one from John Lennon will dug out by the suites to support their working class credentials.  HERE

Surprise News that we in Rotherham will soon have a “Heart of Steel”.    The sculpture is planned to be positioned in the heart of the Peace Gardens between Corporation Street and the Minster. 

The project designed by artist Steve Mehdi is a supplement to The Man of Steel which is being constructed on the site of the old cooling towers close to the M1. 

Originally planned to be financed by Commercial Sponsorship, it has apparently been decided that the project should now be financed by a mix of funders including the general public.   A Charitable not for profit Company has been formed to oversee the fund raising - Yorkshire Icon Limited.  As part of the public subscription scheme former steel workers can have their names engraved on the heart. 

The main arts promoter behind the project is Gallery Town who believe that the project will help to promote Rotherham Town Centre.   My own note to this would be that it would certainly promote more interest and public understanding than the failed picture project. 

I think it may also have been nice if Gallery Town had involved the wider arts Community in their discussions about the project and secured wider support rather than present it as a done deal.

More details can found HERE    

One of my favourite Bands, and really nice folks to boot, Storm Trees is soon to release a CD.   This is much anticipated and I have several proto types in my personal record collection.   For those who can’t wait they have pre-released a video of a track from the CD  -  you can see it HERE    

Wath Festival.   Another successful year?   Certainly successful in terms of main Concert ticket sales and of course the Saturday morning Community bun throwing from the Church Tower and street morris dancing, but in terms of the rest of the event not so hot.  

Once again besides Saturday morning, a stranger happening upon Wath would have been completely baffled by any talk of a Festival, indeed a couple of the performers did mention and not for the first time that they had problems seeking out their venue or what was happening where – along with several clashes of events.  

In a big Festival clashes are to be expected, but audiences were being stretched at Wath.  

Locally this is a very important Folk event, bringing, as it does, some top Musicians to the Borough, but we are letting the show down with really poor publicity.   Someone really does need to get hold of it and give it a good shake up.    That’s all I’d say, and it’s not for the first time.

And while I’m having one of my grumpy periods, why oh why has the Whiston Festival Of Brass, a Festival that receives local finance and sponsorship decided that they have to declare themselves as being part of Sheffield in their Facebook event listing.   The Festival is a growing success story for Rotherham, yes Rotherham.  The Town needs these good news stories, demonstrating as it does how the arts can lead in the re-construction / regeneration of the Borough’s reputation.

OK it might have been a slip of the keyboard, but even after the slip had been pointed out a correction has not been made, therefore, one must assume that it was a deliberate policy decision.  

It’s sad that people benefiting from the Borough should choose to disassociate themselves from the hand that feeds them.

The Festival this year is on 4th July.   You can see Whiston's UDI HERE

Jam and Slam having run for a few sessions is currently under serious review.  Going back to basics.  Watch this space for News heading your way very soon   HERE

But no fear there are plenty of great things going on in Rotherham over the next couple of weeks, as we head into yet another Bank Holiday weekend.   On Friday, a great weekend of Folk music will be found at the Doncaster Folk Festival, whoops that not Rotherham, but  FAERGROUND ACCIDENTS will be definitely in Rotherham when they debut at The Bridge on Friday night, while Crimson Moon continue their tour of Rotherham at The Cutlers on Saturday night, with Stone Phoenix make their debut at The Bridge

Monday sees the start of the South Yorkshire Poetry Festival with events going on throughout Sheffield during the week, when on Friday Live in Rotherham entertain one of the Country’s top Kiss tribute Bands at Silverwood Miners Resource Centre.

Links to details for all these and all the regular events can be found HERE on the Listing Pages. 

Congratulations to you all for getting this far.  

Whatever you are doing have a great time, support your local artists and shops AND KEEP IT LIVE.