Monday, 14 October 2013

Northern Novelist Disappointed By Council Attitude to Arts

LAST Wednesday the Rochdale novelist Trevor Hoyle expressed his disillusionment with the local council in a letter in the Rochdale Observer:
'I attended the meeting of the new group chaired by Coun. Farooq Ahmed at the town hall recently ('Guardians of history gathers forces' Observer October 2nd).  But this group seems to have morphed into another entity from what was originally proposed.

'At the initial meeting a few months ago the aim was to encourage and promote arts, culture and heritage in Rochdale.  Indeed, most of the people at the first meeting came under the arts and culture banner.

'But now, mysteriously, according to your report, the 22-strong committee's aim is that of "championing local history and sites, figures and buildings of note".  It will also "promote important episodes such as the Co-operative movement and the Rochdale Pioneers as well as famous Rochdalians and former residents such as poet Edwin Waugh, reformist John Bright and singer Grace Fields".

'This is all news to me, and disappointing news, as it must be to the 70-plus people who were at the first meeting.  Then the talk was about what could be done to harness all the energy and enthusiasm and multi-talents of local groups and individuals in the borough.  The emphasis was very much on what we could do now, today, as a community, to create the right climate for a vibrant and thriving future for arts and culture in our town.

'To my way of thinking, this would have included practical proposals such as a theatre in the town centre, performance and working spaces for small groups; in their words a genuine commitment to arts, culture and heritage.

'That's the reason, I believe, so many passionate and enthusiastic people turned up at the first meeting.  Now this exciting aspiration has suddenly been transformed - I'd say watered down - into a safe and uncontroversial heritage group.  If Coun. Ahmed wishes to retain the enthusiasm and support of these individuals and groups, please reassure me and those 70 people and tell me I'm wrong.'

Trevor Hoyle

No comments: