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A diverse new season of arts in libraries launched in St Helens

Article date - 24 September 2018

A new season of the nationally-renowned Cultural Hubs arts-in-libraries programme has launched, with loads of unique cultural events in store for all ages and interests.

Cultural Hubs is funded by Arts Council England and delivered by St Helens Council’s Library Service, which is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

This 12th season – covering September to December – includes some rarely seen film screenings in the social realism genre, presented by Heart of Glass as part of the arts organisation’s Take Over Festival, happening right across St Helens.

The films screenings at Chester Lane Library include Ken Loach’s television play ‘The Rank & File’ (Thursday 18 October, 7pm), based on the Pilkington Glass strike that took place in St Helens in 1970.

The film depicts a strike among rank and file union members antagonised by a too-cosy relationship between the board and union executive that had resulted in the gradual erosion of pay and conditions. Loach uses a documentary approach to cover the action, and the rank and file meetings in particular look as if they were lifted directly from contemporary news reports.

Also as part of the libraries’ raft of Take Over Festival events, esteemed writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce will deliver two events in St Helens libraries, with readings for adults (Thursday 11 October, 7pm, Rainhill Library) and families (Saturday 13 October, 1:30pm, Eccleston Library) from his popular books including Millions and Sputnik’s Guide to Life – soon to be a Dreamworks film.

Frank, who was educated in St Helens, has written television episodes for Coronation Street, Brookside and Doctor Who and contributed to movie screenplays including: Forget About Me, Butterfly Kiss, Welcome to Sarajevo, 24 Hour Party People, The Revenger’s Tragedy, and Millions. In 2012 he wrote the opening ceremony for the London Olympic Games, which referenced St Helens’ town motto ‘Ex Terra Lucem’, from the earth comes light.

For young people, there’s a pair of provocative and engaging theatre performances coming early in October. ‘Black’ (Monday 1 October, 7pm, Parr Library) is a vital and challenging show from award-winning writer Keith Saha that fuses theatre with lyricism and live DJ soundscapes, and looks to shed light on the racial tensions that exist in the UK today. In it, young girl Nikki struggles with her father’s seemingly prejudicial views when a Zimbabwean family moves in across the street.

Then, Sophia Hatfield’s ‘Common Lore’ (Friday 5 October, 6pm, Parr Library) will present a new take on fairy tales, fusing traditional stories with mobile phones, projections, spoken word and live electronic music. There’s free pizza for audiences at Black and Common Lore shows!
Later in November, two not-to-missed events will feature in St Helens Libraries, presented by the pioneering national arts organisation DaDa Fest (Disability And Deaf Arts).

Jonathan Griffith is a self-taught artist from St Helens with cerebral palsy, who at 81 is reflecting on his journey into painting and drawing, and sharing his memories of Liverpool, which features in Jonathan’s cityscapes.

He developed his painting skills in his spare time over many years and his retrospective exhibition at Unity Theatre in Liverpool (1 November to 8 December) charts his work as his style has evolved and he gradually lost the mobility that allowed him to paint.

Join Jonathan (Thursday 22 November, 7pm, Chester Lane Library) to learn about his experience of living with a disability, his encounters with changing perspectives and attitudes towards disability over time.

Then, also as part of DaDa Fest comedian Francesca Martinez, will bring her stand-up show ‘What the **** is Normal?!’ to Chester Lane Library (Saturday 24 November, 7pm). Francesca has cerebral palsy, but prefers to describe herself as “wobbly”, and she has performed sell-out shows at some of the world’s most popular comedy circuits and festivals.

Her tour has already clocked up over 130 dates around the world – winning a Fringe Media Network Award at the Edinburgh Fringe, as well as being nominated for Best Show at Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival and at the Perth Festival, Australia.

Francesca will be doing signings of her own critically acclaimed book ‘What the **** is Normal?!’, which inspired the tour.

For full details and even more fantastic and highly accessible events, many of which are free to attend, visit www.culturalhubs.eventbrite.com or pick up a brochure from any St Helens library.