Online festival showcases borough talent

The week-long celebration of Wigan and Leigh gets under way today (Friday).

Friday, 21st May 2021, 4:45 am
Damian Carr and Paul Ludden, co-founders of MancSpirit
Damian Carr and Paul Ludden, co-founders of MancSpirit

Our Wigan and Leigh Festival is being organised by charity MancSpirit and runs until May 28.

The culture and mental health charity has amassed a packed programme of virtual events and content and is looking forward to showcasing the wealth of grassroots groups and skills in the borough.

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Co-founder Paul Ludden said: “This is an excellent opportunity for everyone across the borough to share their talents and take part in an inspirational and positive week of online activity, whether that is exploring the festival throughout the week or by sending in some of your poetry, art, music or anything fun and creative.

“The people, groups, charities and organisations in Wigan and Leigh are doing amazing things, and I see all the time the incredible talent and community spirit that exists in the borough.

“I wanted to give that talent, dedication and passion a platform through developing this festival.”

Supported by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), the festival has put together a large line-up which will be shared through social media streams, podcasts and a YouTube channel.

The event features a new short film about Northern Soul and the iconic Wigan Casino which includes an interview with well-known DJ and promoter Russ Winstanley.

Photographer Martin Holden has prepared an exhibition of more than 100 of his images.

Groups which have submitted videos about their work include More Than Words, Leigh Film and the Friends of the Cherries Community Garden.

MancSpirit says it is passionate about using the festival’s profile to bring these local organisations and their work to a wider audience and give them greater prominence.

Co-founder Damian Carr said: “What really gets to me is that these small groups are scrabbling around for £500 here and £1,000 there.

“The idea is to promote them and get their names out there so hopefully bigger companies and organisations will see what they do and support them.

“We go to meetings with the GMCA and when they are talking about tackling problems we can say to go to these organisations we have featured in the festival.

“We will champion them moving forwards.

“You can’t watch the More Than Words video and not have a big smile on your face, and the murals that have been created in the Cherries Community Garden are incredible.”

Our Wigan and Leigh Festival is the second event MancSpirit has created as part of an ongoing programme which will eventually celebrate hidden talents in all the city-region’s 10 boroughs.

People can also join in during the week by posting on social media about their work using the hashtag #OurWigan.

Damian and Paul also hope the week-long event will be just the start of their work in the borough and the festival will kick off a programme of legacy projects to help Wigan and Leigh for years to come.

Our Wigan and Leigh Festival runs from today until May 28.

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