Dermot’s Blog: We’re Going Nowhere…

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I’d like to start the blog this month by talking about Oldham Coliseum. If you don’t know, Oldham, like us, were not successful in their NPO bid. Oldham, like us, spend a lot of their time working with and empowering new voices. Oldham, like us, is often seen as in the shadow of its neighbour city. Unlike us, it looks as though the doors will be closed at Fairbottom Street at the end of March. This is terrible for all sorts of reasons, but I’d like to focus on the ecology into which companies like Oldham Coliseum and us exist in and why it’s important to recognise, celebrate and support that ecology.

Last month, I highlighted some of the amazing things that Freedom Studios’ alumni have gone on to create (on that note, if you’ve not gotten your tickets for Ben Tagoe’s Better Days, make sure to do that…) and it would be fair to say that Freedom has played its part in those successes, much in the same way that I’m sure Oldham has with its alumni.

What Oldham Coliseum draws our attention to, is that the ecology of British storytelling is shouldered by those companies and individuals who many know nothing of – everyone has got to start somewhere and there are a vast number of companies providing that beginning. We mustn’t lose them. We must see them. We must acknowledge them. We must support them. I write this during the film awards season and I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of the winners started their careers locally through a person or entity that no-one knows about. Freedom Studios is one of those entities.

To that end, the Street Voices 9 sharing is happening in a few weeks and will feature, what I hope, to be the green shoots of some sparkling new writing careers. It would be lovely to see you there – we’ve set the timing so that it will end with enough time for iftar to not be a rush for those observing.

Elsewhere, you may have seen a double announcement earlier this month… I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly welcome Graeme to Freedom Studios and wish him the very best when he officially starts, but also to herald that Freedom Studios have been awarded transition funding from the Arts Council which will secure our immediate future. We’re going nowhere!

I have had the pleasure of talking – via email and in person – to several artists over the last few weeks and what’s striking is that there are a wealth of stories and storytellers in the region; it’s absolutely imperative that those stories are told and that those storytellers are emboldened.

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