In October 2019, Chetham’s celebrated its 50th birthday. To celebrate, the Outreach Department organised Festival 50, a lively open weekend showcasing the region’s creative spirit. The theme was joinin/joined up, celebrating collaborative creative journeys. Arts organisations from across Greater Manchester were invited to exhibit and perform in one of three performance spaces – the Carole Nash recital room, Oglesby Atrium or the Stoller Hall. Over the course of the weekend, we saw people from all walks of life enjoying these fabulous spaces.

In the Oglesby Atrium, we had artwork from Ancoats Visuals Arts’ Be Creative Arts Club and TiPP project artworks. From still life to portraiture, to sculpture, the exhibition was a real testament to TiPP’s belief that the arts have the power to change people’s lives. The joy that comes from art and getting together the make art could be seen in the work that the Be Creative Arts Club presented.

Alongside the artworks, community groups sang, played and performed in the Stoller Hall and Carole Nash Recital Room. We had five choirs in total, who sang a mixture of covers and self-penned songs. We really enjoyed Failsworth Community Choir’s two songs that were originally composed for the Tramtracks project in collaboration with Bridgewater hall. It was fascinating to hear in song their view of their community and what progress in their community means to them.

Another highlight for us was the DIY Theatre Company – a company of performers with learning difficulties based in Salford. They presented a snapshot of their upcoming show Following Patient 36, which looks at Learning Disability History and change that has happened in the past 50 years. The track started out with the performers exploring what it was like to be in the institutions and then what happened when people came out of the institutions as part of Care in the Community. It was very effective when they removed their lab coats to reveal bright t-shirts underneath and with it their individual unique personalities!

Having met many organisations through their wonderful involvement in Festival 50, we are now working with our firm friends in various community music organisations to provide them with support and opportunities to grow musically. We know we have much to learn from each other and we can’t wait to get started!

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