Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!

A happy holiday to one and all. Catch you in 2008.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Queerupnorth faces Arts Council axe

A blogger involved with Manchester's gay and lesbian arts festival has written to say that queerupnorth are one of the couple hundred regularly-funded arts organisations in England who may lose a significant portion of their funding in the Arts Council's latest reorganisation. He writes:

"Arts Council England plans to end funding to queerupnorth from April 1st 2008. queerupnorth is the UK’s leading lesbian and gay arts festival, a Manchester institution, and the only organistion of its type in the UK with an local, national, and international reputation.

queerupnorth will be appealing this cancellation of funding; Arts Council’s Regional Board, chaired by Tom Bloxham, will meet on January 25th to consider the appeal.

queerupnorth is an important arts festival with a key role to play in portraying the LGBT community in a positive light and in challenging complacency, discimination and homophobia, which remain challenges to be faced in our society - all from a bona fide arts platform that enriches community life for all in the Manchester area."

Follow this link to find out more about the festival's campaign.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ambition and distraction

Here's a whole family-size tin's worth of new Manchester blogs for our blogroll. Tasty.

Manchester Libraries have entered the blogging action with The Manchester Lit List, full of news about readings and events, book groups and mini author profiles.

Another foodie blog! This one features the culinary adventures of GastroGrrl... restaurant reviews and meditations on food, cooking and eating.

Mel's Bog Blog is the blog of Manc artist Melanie Warner of the aformentioned Bog Standard Gallery.

Still on the artistic tip, Paw Quality Comics is the blog of comic artist Jim Medway. As you'd expect, lots of great illustrations as well as news about openings and workshops and discussions of the comic art.

Manchester Photography is a blog about photography and Manchester, from Mark Page. For Frock's Sake! is a blog about fashion and styling from Zo, a stylist based in the city.

Equine Obesity is not about fat horses. It's a personal blog written by Fathorse, a student who lives in the city.

Where's Wigan? is the personal blog of Robin, a New Yorker who recently moved to deepest Lancashire. God, can you imagine how crazy a transition that must be? Ho ho ho...Who is that girl? is another personal blog. The Thirsty Gargoyle is another personal blog, and at the moment it seems to be mostly about the work of Alan Moore, the best comic book writer to ever worship a snake-headed Roman sock puppet. Also possibly the best comic book writer ever.

As we giveth, so we taketh away: I am going to be doing a clear-out of blogs that haven't been updated in the last few months or have ceased to exist. If yours is removed but your new year's resolution is to blog more in 2008, just let me know and I'll put you back on the blogroll.

RenterGirl in the Guardian

Yes, it's another "Manchester blogger makes good" post. Y'all are just so darn talented these days. Our MBA best new blog awardee RenterGirl has a nice big feature on the front page of the Guardian's Society section today. Called "Lost in Neverland," it's about the perils of living in a rented new-build apartment in the city centre - essentially a short n' sweet version of her blog. Well done!

Curiously, the article never mentions Manchester - perhaps the Guardian wanted to help it appeal to urban nomads all over the UK? Or maybe they were trying to shield the actual location of Dovecot Towers to prevent reprisals from angry landlords?

Another interesting thing is that RenterGirl has dropped her anonymity for the article and used her real name, Penny Anderson. Penny's a freelance journalist based in the city whose professional writing experience clearly shows in the polished tone of her blog. It's interesting how anonymous bloggers find they can't keep their identities a secret anymore when they cross over to print (see Single Mother on The Verge/Maria Roberts) but I guess it's not surprising. Most newspapers, mags and publishers aren't down with anonymous bylines, at least not for stuff that's based on real-life experience.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Do try this at home

Manchester is a great city for art. Yeah, we don't have a Guggenheim or a Tate, but the full spectrum of what you can see and do here as an artist or art lover is pretty amazing. I just wrote a piece for Art World Magazine about people who start galleries in their homes and in other non-traditional places, inspired by seeing a few around these parts, and in the process of reporting it I discovered a few more.

In addition to the venerable Apartment, located in a flat in what has to be one of the most culturally-leaning council tower blocks in the land, Lamport Court (also home to a literary magazine and at least a couple of musicians who record there), we've got Twenty + 3 projects, an art gallery in the front room of a terrace in Whalley Range, and Porch Gallery, the entrance vestibule of a house in Chorlton which is periodically turned into a kind of contemporary art vitrine.

And then there are totally off the wall things, like Bog Standard Gallery: Artist and recent MMU grad Melanie Warner turned a portaloo into a mobile mini artspace. It's currently at Urbis, exhibiting a series of Warner's photographs of toilet signs around the world.

Want more? Look out for exhibitions in abandoned buildings, private homes or utterly random locations around the city ( from folks like Interval, or Forbidden Arts.) Established art institutions like Castlefield Gallery are doing and supporting off-site stuff too. They recently did a show at the grand old derelict fire station near Piccadilly. Someone had to clean up A LOT of pigeon shit.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Blogging workshop in January

Chris of Mancubist and I are going to be holding another blogging workshop in the New Year, thanks to the lovely folks at MDDA and the Manchester Literature Festival. The workshops booked up in October super fast, so if you want in don't delay.


So You Wanna be a Blogstar?
With Kate Feld of The Manchizzle and the Manchester Blog Awards, and Chis Horkan of Mancubist

1 – 3 pm Saturday, January 19 2008
MDDA, Portland Street.

After a huge demand for our blogging workshops during last year’s Literature Festival, we’ve decided to hold another one for those who might have missed out in October.

In this hands-on workshop, we’ll look at the elements that go into successful blogs, and discuss the finer points of style, design, focus, and attracting readers. We’ll also take you though the applications and add-ons that can make your blog function more professionally. This workshop will suit someone who’s familiar with the basics of blogging but wants to progress to the next level.

Wireless available on site for laptops, or workstations provided – please specify your needs when booking. Limited to ten places. Book by calling the Manchester Literature Festival office on 0161 236 5725, or by emailing

Another Manchester blogger lands book deal

And we're back. I went by the ice rink in Piccadilly yesterday afternoon, which wasn't so festive. A few people were skating (and falling) through puddles in the rain, but the big screen made it all look very Blade Runner.

Some exciting news to report: Manchester freelance writer Maria Roberts, who (until now) has been anonymously writing Single Mother on the Verge, has just landed a deal with Penguin for a book based on her wry and funny semi-confessional blog. Maria has published several short stories and is a former City Life hack who has recently been working with Literature North West, and it's nice to see her hard work paying off.

And you may note that Maria is the second of this year's crop of Manchester Blog Award winners to get a book deal.(Not that the award had anything to do with Chris Killen's, but still.) Maria credits the award with raising her blog's profile and boosting her own confidence in her writing, both of which helped her land the publishing deal. And I've heard something about a third blog award winner being commissioned to write a blog-inspired column in one of the nationals... sheesh. Do we know how to pick 'em?

Santa's sack is bulging with new blogs for me to add to the blogroll, so stay tuned.