Dream a little dream
Reporter: John Hardcastle
Date online: 15 August 2010
Well, there I was in the town centre on Saturday together with Mrs Hardcastle and the two boys. The place was buzzing and packed with people out to have fun.
Needless to say, these were not shoppers. Rochdale town centre doesn’t seem to have been full of these since Adam was a lad. No, these were attendees of the Feel Good Festival, headed up by top 90s band The Lightning Seeds and well supported by local acts, cookery demonstrations, feats of daring-do by members of Skylight Circus and the inevitable crooning of former mayor Keith Swift.
It was a good day. The rain held off. There was very little crowd trouble and the whole event, though well-organised, contained enough spontaneity to give it a real ‘festival feel’. So why isn’t there more of it I wondered?
Rochdale is screaming out for a town centre performance venue in which we can showcase local talent and act as a hothouse for aspiring artists. Much has been talked of over the years and even more has been promised. We were all set to have a local Arts Centre a year or two back on the back of pledges made for political purposes but never kept.
In fact, we were exhorted by the Liberal Democrats not to vote Liberal Democrat if the project didn’t come off. Well, in a nutshell, it didn’t so we didn’t. Perhaps this, in part, accounts for Mr Danczuk’s remarkable success at the polls.
Now of course, the economic tide has turned. There is as much chance of Rochdale getting an Arts Centre as there is of cow-dung being discovered on the moon.
Such a pity but perhaps the Feel Good Festival shows us the way forward. Perhaps with funding it could turn into a multi-day event and broaden its base to include classical music, theatre, writing and poetry workshops, painting, sculpture, etc.
Don’t laugh! It happened in the 1970s with Arts Council funding so it could happen again.
The town centre makes a truly splendid backdrop for an event of this sort and, with the Metrolink coming, it really could be used to bring people right to the heart of the venue. It could be a real boost for a town that has suffered more knocks over the years than Evel Knievel’s motorcycle.
There is so much talent in and around the town but for me the saddest thing is that so much more talent will never see the light of day because there is so little encouragement for it to develop and so few venues for it to be displayed in.
All of this will require effort and of course money but compared to the cost of building a brand spanking new Arts Centre this will be minimal. There would have to be political will of course but this would create a great opportunity for ALL our politicians to work together for the good of the town. It would involve schools, colleges, community groups and local businesses.
Wouldn’t it be great one day to turn on the radio or TV and hear us being described as, “Rochdale, home of the famous Arts Festival.’
Could it happen? Well who would have thought that Hay-on-Wye would become the venue for Britain’s greatest literary festival or that Manchester could host the Commonwealth Games?
Something happened this weekend in Rochdale of which we can all feel proud. The organisers and performers worked hard and the results were most pleasing and gave us an insight into what could be achieved with talent, hard work, determination and vision.
Dare to dream people. Dare to dream...
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