Hi there!

Alex Heaton - Intern - June 2016 - 2My name is Alex and I am in my second month as Assistant Producer Intern at Mid Pennine Arts, where I feel incredibly lucky and excited to be undertaking my placement year. I have just finished my second year of University, studying Illustration and Contemporary Art at Huddersfield, but come from the local area. This meant I already knew about Mid Pennine Arts and some of their amazing work. I wanted to join MPA because I am passionate about bringing arts to the community and I feel there is sometimes an absence of this, and MPA do a wonderful job of engaging a wide community for their work.

I am going to be helping Nick, Melanie and the other project managers with some of the projects as they advance towards their completion, which I find brilliant as I have never been involved with projects on such a large scale before. A few I have been helping out with are: Burnley Canal Festival (27 & 28 August 2016), Spodden Valley Revealed and 50 Years of Mid Pennine Arts.

I have only been at MPA for four weeks and already feel as though I am growing, both in learned skills and confidence. So far I have attended a lot of meetings, these help me gain more in-depth knowledge about the projects, how they are brought together, and how good communication is an important part of the process. This has, slowly but surely, been helping me with my confidence. I have also been minute taking, which is really useful, as it is helping me learn to write down key points when making notes, rather than writing down every part (no matter how irrelevant)!

We recently had a Spodden Valley Explorers event at Whitworth family fun day, where a few of us went down in our exploring gear and welcomed new explorers, helping them make badges and inviting them to share their stories of the area. This was to raise awareness of the Spodden Valley Revealed Project. It was great seeing both kids and adults alike join in on the fun, and wonderful how excited everyone was when the final badges came out. I have to say I got a bit too enthusiastic about the badge making myself. I feel as though badge making brings out the inner child in everyone, though some people won’t readily admit it!

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I have also been helping with the 50 Years of Mid Pennine Arts project, and have found reading through the old programmes and press cuttings really interesting, as I am scanning them in preparation for the digital archive. This sometimes proves to be quite hilarious, when any member of the team finds a particularly funny story or headline. Though we do sometimes have to drag ourselves out of the time warp, as you could get lost in them for days!

Along with the many lovely and wonderful people I have been given the opportunity to meet, I am very excited to say that this week I will be meeting the artist Lucy Birbeck, who is creating the flags for Burnley Canal Festival. I can’t wait to know a bit more about her working process, and I feel I have lots to learn from her.

Four weeks has flown by, and I can’t quite believe how much I have already learned at MPA. I always start each day with excitement when thinking about all the projects that are in progress, and I am so excited about the parts I am going to be here to see all the way through – like Burnley Canal Festival! I can’t wait to learn more from the kind and helpful team at MPA and all those I encounter while working here, and I would like to thank everyone I have met so far for being so friendly and great.

Penzance to Burnley – Day 51

Long-time supporter and Friend of MPA, Barbara Sanders, is undertaking the most extraordinary feat this spring. Barbara is walking from Penzance to Burnley and is asking people to support her efforts by donations to MPA.

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Yesterday Barbara reached 1,000 kilometres which is 625 miles and 35,605 metres of ascent!  Getting to this point certainly hasn’t been easy.  Since we last updated on her progress she’s endured more dreadful weather.  But more worryingly she also slipped on a tree root on the 15th April and has a possible fracture in her arm. She had to go to Shrewsbury hospital to get it checked out, but the results of whether it was fractured or not were inconclusive.  So back to the hospital for more tests the day after and the consultant thought that her arm did have a small fracture.  Fitted with a removable splint and the consultant’s advice that she should carry on if she wanted to, she headed back to the trail.

Barbara had some concerns about whether she would be able to put up her tent etc, so she devised a new plan.  She jettisoned the heavy camping gear, at least temporarily, and added a few more B&B’s and hostels to the schedule.

There is no doubt that Barbara is one tenacious lady, she isn’t going to let anything stop her!

Yesterday she arrived in Uttoxeter after three days of green ways, Sustrans bike routes and canals. Her arm is getting easier but she’s still using the splint full time. Today, with a fair wind behind her she should reach the peak district.

So far Barbara has raised the wonderful total of £592, but this magnificent effort deserves more.  If you can help, contributions to Barbara’s fundraising can be made via Just Giving.

Look out for updates on Barbara’s progress on this blog and on our Facebook page.

Dr Steph Takes on the Marathon

We are feeling very privileged at  the moment, not only is Barbara Sanders still on her way from Penzance, on foot, but one of our Trustees has also been out in all weathers, training hard for this weekend’s London Marathon.  Both are undertaking these extraordinary feats to raise funds for MPA’s 50th Anniversary.

Dr Stephanie Hawke, has been pounding the tow path of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, racking up a 100 miles of training runs.  Steph first became involved with MPA as a 16 year old on work placement.  Some years later we were very pleased to welcome her to the education team, which she went on to lead in 2011 after completing her PhD.  Although we lost her to Curious Minds a while back, Steph has stayed involved with MPA by joining the Board of Trustees.

Steph Hawke 2 - training for London Marathon April 2016

Steph says, “I started running with a fantastically supportive group organised through Burnley Leisure. My first race was the Jane Tomlinson Burnley 10k.  I got the bug and within 12 months I’d joined Clayton Le Moors Harriers, run six half marathons and had my sights on the big one. I was delighted to win a place for the Virgin London Marathon 2016 and started training in January running through ice, hail, lightning, wind, rain and sun. As the mileage increased the Leeds Liverpool Canal provided the perfect track, and apart from being hissed at by surprisingly threatening geese, I have successfully pounded more than 100 miles of training. There’s a physical price to pay for that kind of endurance and I’ve had painful massage and acupuncture not to mention experimenting with ice baths and agonising foam rollers!

I’m raising money for Mid Pennine Arts to establish an award for young artists. The organisation has brought vibrancy, colour and texture to Pennine Lancashire for 50 years, often with little recognition – who doesn’t love the Singing Ringing Tree? MPA make me proud to live in Burnley and I want to inspire the next generation of artists to work in our quietly fabulous historic and rural environment. “

Steph has contributed so much to MPA over the years and we are delighted to benefit from her efforts once again.   We know how hard she’s been training for this and appreciate it enormously; we hope that people will help her reach her target of £800.

Contributions to Steph’s fundraising can be made via Just Giving.

Steph Hawke - training for London Marathon April 2016

Revealing the Spodden Valley

This spring we are delighted to welcome a new but familiar face to the MPA team as Diana Hamilton gets to work as Project Manager for Spodden Valley Revealed This is our  major new project promising some transformational impacts for communities in the Whitworth area of Rossendale. Unfolding over three years,  Spodden Valley Revealed will explore the long timeline of human settlement there, through an engagement programme involving local people of all ages, and a range of exciting artist commissions.  The end result will be an innovative, linear heritage destination for local people and visitors to explore, adding rich content to the off-road cycling and walking route which will become the Valley of Stone Greenway.

Diana has worked around the North West, managing arts and public realm projects, for over 10 years. She is passionate about telling the stories of a place in a creative and engaging way and re-interpreting heritage for new audiences.

Previously, Diana led on the development of the Irwell Sculpture Trail, which stretches 33 miles from Salford to Bacup, putting together a 6-year plan to secure Arts Council capital funding for its redevelopment.  She has supported the creation of a brand new Sculpture Centre at the heart of the trail in Bury.  Most recently, she managed an experimental public art programme across five new interchange sites for Transport for Greater Manchester, including temporary commissions, digital trails and events, testing a new way for working for that organisation.

Diana has worked across many other cultural events, opening up unexpected spaces such as a medieval tower and shopping space for Barnaby Festival, and local churches, parks and an armoury for Bury Light Night.  For Station Stories, she partnered with Manchester Literature Festival to create a live storytelling event at Manchester Piccadilly station, taking an audience in headphones on a journey of six newly commissioned stories, told by an unknown storyteller in the throng of commuters.

This depth of experience and breadth of imagination, combined with her knowledge and understanding of the North West, mean that Diana is brilliantly well equipped to take forward our unique vision for Spodden Valley Revealed.  With Diana getting to work now, we are delighted to be getting started on this fantastic project.

You can contact Diana via email for more information on Spodden Valley Revealed.

Diana Hamilton - Project Manager for Spodden Valley Revealed - March 2016

Penzance to Burnley – Day 34

Long-time supporter and Friend of MPA, Barbara Sanders, is undertaking the most extraordinary feat this spring. Barbara is walking from Penzance to Burnley and is asking people to support her efforts by donations to MPA.

The weather has continued to give Barbara a rather hard time, with lots of rain, high winds and cold to negotiate, even some hail!  In mid March she camped for the first time and woke to find frost on the tent.  Wearing two t-shirts, plus two insulating layers; a hat and nose mask kept her warm enough.  As she says, “the advantage of sleeping in a set of warm clothes inside your sleeping bag is that you are ready to make a dash for the toilet block at a moment’s notice”!

But thankfully there have also been brighter days, as you can see from her photographs.  You can also see the two amazing bridges she needed to cross.  Both during high winds.  The Clifton Suspension Bridge into Bristol and the Severn Bridge into Chepstow were both swaying precariously as she crossed.  In fact the Severn Bridge was closed later the same day. We are continually impressed by her determination to keep moving, no matter what.

By the end of March Barbara got her first good view of the Black Mountains and with that reached more than 50% in days, miles and ascent.  She has walked 400 miles and climbed 23,380 metres of ascent.

As a member of the Clarion Choir we are sure that it was very meaningful when yesterday, walking the Cambrian Way, she passed the Chartists Cave where they used to hide the printing press for the Chartist movement and then a memorial to Aneurin Bevin -the architect of the NHS.

For the next few days Barbara is being joined by her friends Derek and Ellie who are also walking the Cambrian Way (commonly known as the Dragon’s Back) and are acting as her guides.  We do hope the weather treats them all kindly.

So far Barbara has raised the wonderful total of £440, but this magnificent effort deserves more.  If you can help, contributions to Barbara’s fundraising can be made via Just Giving.

Look out for updates on Barbara’s progress on this blog and on our Facebook page.

Not Lost, Just Interning!

Isobel Cecil - Assistant Producer Intern - 2016Hello! I’m Issy, Mid Pennine Arts’ new Assistant Producer Intern for the next six months. I’m very excited to be undertaking this role, and feel very lucky that I was selected.  Hopefully I can enrich MPA’s fabulous work with some of my previous experience and my enthusiasm for socially engaged arts.

I’m going to be working alongside Project Managers, as well as Nick and Melanie, developing projects and getting stuck in with MPA’s engagement work. This is an exciting time to have joined MPA as they put together the celebrations for their 50th anniversary. On my first day I arrived to see our team of dedicated volunteers shifting through some beautiful MPA event posters from the 60s/70s – one of which I was very tempted to take home and hang on the wall…

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Out with fellow Senior Explorers

I graduated from the University of Manchester last year with a degree in English Literature and American Studies. After completing my final year of uni, alongside becoming a Student Producer for the Whitworth Gallery and volunteer at Manchester International Festival, I became invigorated with a passion for widening public engagement in the Arts. I then went off to New Delhi to teach the most enthusiastic and intelligent children debating skills, art and literature. All of these past experiences meant that when I saw this internship, I jumped at it. Luckily I landed the role!

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The Very Special Meeting with Wild Rumpus

It’s the start of my third week today and already I’ve become a Senior Explorer Silly-iously Serious Cecil with the mighty Bowland Explorers; explored the old railway line through Whitworth and met lots of the lovely people who interact with MPA. Furthermore, I’ve fully thrown myself in by moving to Burnley, and managed to find a room just over 100 meters away from the office! I’m very excited to keep going and get more and more immersed in the great work MPA do.

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Exploring the Spodden Valley with Project Manager Diana and artist Steve Messam

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Scenery around Whitworth

I’ve been welcomed wonderfully and thank you very much to Super Slow Way and Lancashire County Council for supporting my post!

 

issy@midpenninearts.org.uk

 

 

Penzance to Burnley – Day 14

Long-time supporter and Friend of MPA, Barbara Sanders, is undertaking the most extraordinary feat this spring. Barbara is walking from Penzance to Burnley and is asking people to support her efforts by donations to MPA.

Barbara’s first few days saw some atrocious weather and she had to battle driving rain and gale force winds, but she kept going.  On the 7 March she finally got some of the weather she had been hoping for and completed the longest distance to date at 17 miles and 1,166 metres of ascent.  The improved weather has helped her catch up with the schedule, which had been delayed by the earlier dreadful conditions.  Yesterday, on Day 14, she passed 186 miles and 12,000 metres of ascent.  To give you some context the 10,000 metre, or ascent mark, is equivalent to Everest!   Barbara will have a few more of those to do before the end.

The last few days she’s had the company of two friends who have provided wonderful support.  They have walked with her and cooked fantastic cordon bleu meals from a tiny camper van. To thank them Barbara provided the singing for a dance on the beach to celebrate a birthday.  Not sure where she found the energy for that!

Barbara is regularly keeping us updated on her progress and sending lots of great photographs of her travels.

Contributions to Barbara’s fundraising can be made via Just Giving.

Look out for updates on Barbara’s progress on this blog and on our Facebook page.