By Steve Cooke
In line with the Government’s roadmap, Rochdale’s Touchstones museum and Middleton Arena have re-opened to the public for the first time this year.
Both venues, managed by local charity Link4Life, reopened their doors this week, in line with the Government’s lockdown roadmap.
Three new exhibitions will be available for viewing at Touchstones, What’s Changed? focusses on how life has changed during the pandemic; Harmony, Contrast & Discord queries the slow disappearance of Britain’s regional art schools, and ‘We can do it!’ War’s Other Voices in partnership with Imperial War Museums (IWM), commemorates the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain last year.
It follows a year’s worth of online activity, which has delivered an online offer, creative kits into the community and continued to work with residents on major socially engaged co-creation commissions, with artists including Turner Prize-winning artist Helen Cammock, to help keep Rochdale residents connected with culture during lockdown.
The popular Middleton Arena will also play host to events for all ages, with the Family Cinema Club returning from Saturday 22nd May. Family favourites including The Lion King, Frozen 2 and Toy Story 4 have been scheduled throughout the month with visitors advised to book early.
Staff at both destinations have also worked to ensure visitor safety is a top priority, with a number of official COVID-safety measures in place. Touchstones has received the ‘We’re Good to Go’ certificate – a UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark awarded to destinations that follow the Government’s COVID-19 reopening guidance and advice from Public Health England.
And Middleton Arena has also received the ‘See it Safely’ mark, which was created by Official London Theatre for destinations to ensure visitors can feel confident and safe knowing that the venue is COVID-secure and following the latest government safety advice.
Mark Doyle, Art Gallery Curator & Collections Manager at Touchstones, said: "We’re delighted to be welcoming people back to Touchstones from next week.
"We’ve been in regular contact with our visitors during the pandemic and want to make sure they have even more to discover as we re-open, which is why it was important to have these new exhibitions and events in place.”
Jonathan Higgins, Head of Events and Programming at Link4Life, added: “It’s been a really tough period for everyone without any events or activities to look forward to, so we’re over the moon to be finally allowed to reopen our doors.
“The family Cinema Club has always been a huge favourite with the local community, so we hope people will take the opportunity to get together again and venture out to enjoy some time with friends and loved ones."
"As we build up through the months ahead, we’ve got an exciting events programme planned and we can’t wait to welcome people back again and get back to doing what we do best.”
Details of all exhibitions and events can be viewed at www.link4life.org/whatson