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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

Arts Outside - Summer Saturdays

By Steve Cooke

Your Trust and Rochdale Borough Council have an exciting partnership with Without Walls underway.

Three years ago, Rochdale Council and Your Trust [fka Link4Life] being our borough-wide charity that exists to provide for happier, healthier, creative lives through combining cultural and leisure services joined forces to become part of Without Walls Touring Network Partnership; a consortium of festivals, organisations and artists dedicated to raising the profile of the UK outdoors sector, both nationally and internationally.

Being a partner with Without Walls has already produced a great series of events including at the most recent, pre Covid 19, Feelgood Festival and this summer under the banner of Summer Saturdays.

In our times it is imperative that we continue to provide opportunities for people to engage with creativity. So, it was great to see this summer’s innovative series of pop-up events animating shopping areas and green spaces across our borough. A programme of performers who appealed to everyone, engaging shoppers, and visitors in exploring the sights and sounds of the amazing world around us. The performances were a mixture of static and promenade elements delivered across the borough that certainly brought a much-needed lot of joy to many people and something new to our communities.

We were treated to such as:

My House, Apocalyptic Circus

Fools Paradise Street Theatre

Pif Paf, Toast

In places such as: Falinge Park, Rochdale; Middleton Town Centre (Gardens, market area and Shopping Centre); Queens Park, Heywood; Hopwood Park, Heywood; Rochdale Town Centre, (Riverside Shopping Centre, Baillie Street, Yorkshire Street); and Hare Hill Park, Littleborough.

Your Trust’s deputy Chief Executive Darren Grice says ‘Initially, presenting work outdoors, on the street, in a town centre or park helps us to reconnect with residents but longer term, it will enable us to build new audiences for culture. Outdoor arts doesn’t have the barriers of traditional venues such as tickets and in many cases, cost. It’s democratic, presented in civic space owned by everybody and audiences can ‘vote with their feet’ meaning they can engage and commit as much or as little time to the experience as they wish. Our partnership with Without Walls has quickly gathered significant local support. It’s not our ‘usual arts supporters’ either, the evidence is that a significant majority were accessing our cultural programmes for the first time, demonstrating that taking the arts ‘outside’ is helping to build brand new audiences for culture as part of a long-term strategic investment’.

AATA is very much looking forward to the next product of this partnership!

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