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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA



previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke







By Steve Cooke

We have been experiencing a steady decline in shared public spaces for many years. The demise of traditional meeting places like working men’s clubs, pubs, church halls and community centres has led to an increased isolation and loneliness.

Reclaim the Space is a programme funded by the National Lottery Know Your Neighbourhood Fund until March 2025 in the Rochdale Borough wards of Milkstone and Deeplish, Spotland and Falinge, and Darnhill, Heywood.

The project builds on Cartwheel Arts’ creative consultation project in 2022/23 in Darnhill and Deeplish which focused on Community Safety and identified the barriers to accessible public spaces and asked how these should be addressed.

The focus of Reclaim the Space now shifts from community safety to social isolation and aims to understand residents’ views on what is needed to increase connection in their local area. Reclaim the Space is a collaboration with the communities to cocreate an artistic resolution. The increased creative engagement will offer opportunities for connection and a supported pathway from participant to volunteer.

The target will be specific marginalised communities within the localities who are most at risk of isolation and loneliness – this will be young people in Darnhill, through the Young Producers programme, and communities at risk of experiencing racial inequalities including refugee and asylum-seeking communities, in Milkstone and Deeplish and Spotland and Falinge. They will offer accessible opportunities for connection and a supported pathway from participant into volunteer, with a range of opportunities; from ‘micro volunteering’ at one-off events or for short periods, to joining a community steering group.

New green shoots in Deeplish!

Deeplish families and individuals already have worked with artist Alex Blakey to create beautifully decorated planters.  The planters have been decorated with the words of local people and images of the community and places in Deeplish, including the local mosque.

Reclaim The Space included a series of creative consultations developed in partnership with Deeplish Community Centre. They found that the community desired more green space in their local area. 

The community’s words were ‘harvested’ in a series of writing workshops facilitated by Salma Khaled, Shamila Irim and local poet Seamus Kelly. Two poems were written in collaboration with children at Deeplish Primary School and women aged 50+ at Deeplish Community Centre; these have been used to inspire the words and art painted on the planters.

The planters will be seeded with flowers and veggies, which will grow and flower this summer.  We’re excited to see what comes up!

The voices of children and parents were captured during the workshops. Here’s what they had to say:

“I am having more fun than my kids!”

“I used to do so much art in college, but after I got married and had kids, I forgot about it. I got the chance to do something today, and I want to do more!”

“I don’t have time to do these things during school times, half term is good for parent and children’s activities.”

“The artist is so good with children. She is patient and explained everything so well to my children.”


Artist Rooms and Touchstones

Preview by Steve Cooke

As the Touchstones Art Gallery and Museum space is undergoing redevelopment there is still plenty going on. They currently are working with Tate on an exciting new project, building on their Artist Rooms collections of contemporary and modern art to create a new type of exhibition, co-created with members of our community.

Together with artist Erica Matthews, Touchstones has formed an art group based in Middleton who will delve into Tate’s Artist Rooms collection and Touchstones’ own collections in order to curate a unique exhibition, inspired by their own experiences of viewing and making art. Throughout Touchstones’ closure for redevelopment, the group will meet weekly to research, discuss and develop an overarching narrative for the exhibition, choosing a story to tell and selecting pieces for inclusion.

When the building reopens in 2025, the final exhibition will form part of the opening programme, pioneering the spirit of co-curation which will come to define Touchstones in the years ahead.

About Artist Rooms

Artist Rooms is a collection of modern and contemporary art. Established in 2008, the collection includes major bodies of work by more than 40 international artists. The guiding principle is to show the work of each artist in dedicated solo exhibitions. Through Artist Rooms, important works of art can be seen by visitors across the United Kingdom. Since the touring programme began in 2009, nearly 50 million people have visited more than 180 exhibitions at over 85 museums and galleries, from Penzance to the Hebrides, and from Belfast to Llandudno. Artist Rooms gives young people across the UK the chance to get involved in creative projects, discover more about art and artists, and learn new skills.

The touring programme is delivered by the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate in a partnership with Ferens Art Gallery until December 2020, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, by Art Fund and by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland. Jointly owned by the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate, the collection was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, and the Scottish and British Governments.




Saturday 20 April 2024

Mayor's Charity Ball

The Mayor of Rochdale presents Spring Charity Ball.

Join us for a ball in aid of the Mayor of Rochdale's charities. This will be a fantastic evening of entertainment, including:

A reception drink on arrival

A three-course dinner and limited wine available on your table

After dinner entertainment

Dress code: black tie/evening dress.

The charity ball will be one of the first events taking place in the amazing Rochdale Town Hall after a grand restoration.

Book tickets in advance by emailing You will need to provide your name, email address and number of tickets you want to buy.

Tickets are £50 per person or £450 for a table of ten.

The bar will be open till midnight.

Phone: Rochdale Town Hall 01706 924773

Reception at 7pm - late

Rochdale Town Hall, The Esplanade, Rochdale OL16 1AB


Saturday 20 April 2024

Public Museum Talk

Rochdale Pioneers Museum is launching a new regular museum talk.

Book on to learn more about the story of the Rochdale Pioneers and the UK co-operative movement at a talk delivered by one of their friendly museum staff.

The talk will last approximately 45 minutes and you are free to look around the museum on your own before or afterwards.

Places are limited and need to be booked in advance:

The cost is £3 per person. However, we know that money can be tight, so if you want to attend, but don't feel able to pay the £3, you can also choose a free ticket on their website.

Phone: Fanny Reiter 01706 524920

1pm - 2pm

Rochdale Pioneers Museum, 31 Toad Lane, Rochdale OL12 0NU


Sunday 21 April 2024

A concert with Littleborough Brass Band and Littleborough Training Band

An afternoon of brass band music featuring Littleborough Brass Band and Littleborough Training Band.

£6 adults and £4 for 12 and under plus booking fee

Phone: Sue Hampshire 07791124726


Littleborough Cricket Club, Denhurst Road, Littleborough OL15 9LD


Monday 22 April 2024

Singing in the Shower Group

Singing in the Shower Group is for those that think they can't sing, but just want to sing out loud and proud with no judgement whilst having lots of fun.

Guarantee of a good time, a laugh and a giggle.

Everyone is welcome. if you don't want to sing, you can just clap along.

Light refreshments are available.

Children are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult.

£2 per person (suggested donation)

Phone: Leonie 07513 694862

6pm - 7pm

Brimrod Church Community Hall, Roch Valley Way, Rochdale OL11 4PZ


Tuesday 23 April 2024

Rochdale & District Camera Club

Tonight is portrait night.

We meet every Tuesday at 8pm at Syke Methodist Church Hall.

You are more than welcome to come down to one of our club nights to see if you would enjoy joining the club.

Phone: Pete Williams 07967 969136


Syke Methodist Church Hall, Syke Road, Rochdale OL12 9TF


Wednesday 24 April 2024

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - Q2 competition.

We meet every Wednesday at Rochdale Unitarian Church, starting at 7.30pm prompt (doors open from 7.15pm). The door is kept locked so please ring the bell on arrival.

If you would like to see the club for yourself and meet our members, you are welcome to attend as our guest for up to 3 weeks before committing to membership. Annual subscription is £36 for single or £46 for joint membership.

A weekly room fee of £2.50 is also payable on arrival at the meeting. Refreshments are 50p.

Doors open 7.15pm, 7.30pm start

Rochdale Unitarian Church, Clover Street, Rochdale OL12 6TP


Wednesday 24 April 2024

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have Hanna Csermely piano (RNCM).

The concert series has been held at St Mary’s since 2001 and was granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2020… during the pandemic!

Running every Wednesday, Music at Lunchtime is a weekly live classical music concert series that has been going since the 1960s. The sessions were initially run at the old Rochdale Art Gallery by the local authority, but since May 2001 have been run by volunteer-enthusiasts and artistic director, Dr Joe Dawson.


Phone: Dr Joe Dawson 01706 648872

Doors open 12noon, concert starts 12.30pm - 1.30pm

St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane/St Mary's Gate, Rochdale OL16 1DZ



celebrating creative arts and artists - an oasis of positivity supporting individual and community wellbeing.

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