What you will see at launch of The Fire Within arts festival in Wigan town centre

Wiganers can expect a spectacular celebration of local arts and talent at a festival launching the borough’s new cultural manifesto.
A computer-generated image of how the main manifesto HQ room will lookA computer-generated image of how the main manifesto HQ room will look
A computer-generated image of how the main manifesto HQ room will look

The unveiling of ambitious five-year plan The Fire Within takes over The Galleries Shopping Centre in the town centre for the event on Saturday.

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Artists, musicians, poets and dancers will be among those strutting their stuff in the old Peacocks unit to launch what Wigan Council hopes will be a far-reaching boost to culture, the town centre and health and wellbeing.

The local authority teamed up with three experts and internationally-renowned Wigan-based artists and film-makers Al and Al to work out what cultural groups wanted to see for the future and then turn them into an exciting document.

The manifesto will now be brought to life this weekend with no fewer than six units in the ailing retail hub being used as either long-term or temporary exhibition and performance spaces.

Wigan Council chief executive Alison McKenzie-Folan said: “Although we already have a significant cultural offer in Wigan borough, we wanted to create something more inclusive that would inspire residents and visitors alike to engage with arts and culture in our thriving town.

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“Al and Al, along with council teams, have since engaged with a range of artists and performers to really bring The Fire Within to life.

“The manifesto is written for the people, by the people and we’re really confident that the festival will celebrate that approach.”

The manifesto includes five iconic figures from Wigan’s history including top lawyer and Egyptologist Sir John Scott, and priceless treasures from the time of the pharaohs he collected will be on display.

Another icon is Appley Bridge artist Theodore Major and some of his unique paintings will be hung in The Galleries.

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Other artists include Anna FC Smith, who is recreating her Boxing Day procession, choreographed by Ruth Welch, and Dustin Lyon and Louise Robson who are both making complex cutting-edge video-based installations.

Wigan Youth Orchestra will put a 50-piece ensemble on the large bone-shaped stage in the former shop which is going to act as The Fire Within HQ and poet and performance artist Louise Fazackerley will showcase her way with words.

WN Dance Company will show off their moves, musician Zack Carpenter will play and there will be more high-tech performances from Haden Boardman with a quadrophonic stereo system and soundscape artists Overload.

Members of Cross Street Arts in Standish are also exhibiting work while Al and Al’s contribution is an unusual piece combining collections of taxidermied animals with a nativity scene referring to Isaac Newton’s mathematical discoveries which they say heralded the birth of the modern world.

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The five icons, a list completed by Leigh scientist Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker, Victorian baker James Edwards and The Road to Wigan Pier author George Orwell, will take centre stage in the former Bonmarche unit It is hoped the displays will remain on show throughout summer.

The manifesto launch is from 11am until 4pm, with two hours of performances starting at noon.