ARTISTS and creatives across Greater Manchester, who have been inspired by the Covid-19 crisis, are to showcase their exciting new work on a brand new online platform from this weekend.
The varied and impactful pieces, ranging from animation and art to carnival, dance, design, game, film, literature, music, photography, poetry and theatre, were commissioned by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) in April, as part of the city-region’s commitment to nurturing culture, even during lockdown.
The Creative Commissions worth £500 each were granted to 60 number of artists, writers, film-makers, photographers, actors and performers in April. All have worked hard in the weeks since to capture the essence of Greater Manchester during the coronavirus shutdown, providing an artistic archive for future generations to explore and enjoy.
Now their work has been curated on a new web platform curated by the GMCA, with the public able to explore the work pieces from Friday 12 June – visit https://gmcovidcommissions.
Theatre and film-maker Tess Farley, from Stockport, used her commission to work with a team of six to make a film that will be broadcast for the first time on the United We Stream Greater Manchester platform on Saturday at 10pm.
The film ‘We Still Believe in Love’ tells multiple stories through one voice of how people in Manchester were affected by the lockdown during April, drawing on real experiences told to Tess.
Tess Farley said: “My work is normally about telling the stories of vulnerable and disadvantaged people and bringing them together with civic leaders and decision-makers through theatre and art.
“I was interested to use a theatre process to create digital work during lockdown to tell stories that needed to be heard of the breadth of challenges faced by people across Greater Manchester, because they have been profoundly affected by covid.
“The £500 has been shared with the team, but they all wanted to do it for the love of Manchester. This is a real celebration of our creative and diverse society. It also forms an important artistic record of what it was like to have lived through this period.”
Cllr David Greenhalgh, GMCA Lead for Culture, said: “It’s really wonderful to see the archive of creative commissions come together. Art and creativity has helped so many of us through lockdown, whether reading, listening to music, watching things online or creating ourselves, this situation has brought to the fore just how important art and culture are in helping us to understand and making sense of the world around us.
“The work submitted is exceptional and demonstrates just how much talent we have in Greater Manchester. The archive as a whole is an important document of these times, that captures moments of fear and sadness, as well as moments of joy and reflection.
“When we look back in years to come on how we, as individuals and as a society, were affected by the pandemic and lockdown, this archive of stories, images, music and more will be an important record of these strange and troubling times.”
The Greater Manchester Creative Commissions project is just one of a number of initiatives pursued by the city-region’s Combined Authority to support the cultural and creative industries.
United We Stream – a live online music and performance platform which has streamed exciting and attention-grabbing programming for several weeks, entertaining residents self-isolating at home – has engaged millions of viewers across the globe and fundraised around £400,000 that will be shared among charities and people who work in the night-time economy, as well as the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity.
One of the final United We Stream fundraising events will be the upcoming ‘DJ battle of the North West’, a much-anticipated musical dual between Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and his Liverpool City Region equivalent Mayor Steve Rotheram, scheduled for 8pm, Saturday 13 June. The live stream of the DJ battle will be available to view via the United We Stream website, on the Manchester Evening News website or on Facebook.
In another initiative, GMCA creative “care kits” are also being provided to young people who may be struggling with mental health during the pandemic. These 36 page booklets of activities and advice include a set of art materials that will help young people to explore their creativity and to express themselves.
Additionally, to support a sector hit hard by the financial impact if lockdown, at the start of the pandemic GMCA processed six-month advanced payments to the 35 organisations awarded grants as part of the £8.6m Greater Manchester Culture Fund for 2020/21