Manchester Histories DigiFest 2020
Manchester Histories DigiFest 2020
Blog Category: General update
Manchester Histories applied to the Sir Robert McAlpine Foundations Grant, supported by Semble in February 2020 and we were really excited to hear that our application was successful. It meant so much to us in the mist of a changing world.
The grant supported three young disabled artists from Manchester to express their voices through music and performance. Together with Drake Music, three artists Lucy Hale, James Holt, and Olly Hyland (all 18-29) responded to the themes of DigiFest 2020, and made new work.
- Lucy Hale, a composer of classical music studying a masters at RNCM, created solo cello piece called ‘Warning, Falling On Ears That Refused to Hear’. The piece was performed live by cellist Georgina Aasgaard, of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the opening night of DigiFest 2020.
- James Holt, a singer/songwriter who makes melodic 60s-inspired jangle pop created two songs ‘Sea of Silence’ and ‘Make My Day’, in response to Alf Morris’s life and archival materials. James was also interviewed on BBC Radio Manchester to talk about his experiences of being involved in the project and he played ‘Sea of Silence’ to thousands of listeners to promote his work and DigiFest 2020.
- Olly Hyland, lead singer of the band The Spotlighters, who performs regularly at HOME’s House Parties is a unique pop song writer and off-kilter lyricist. For DigiFest 2020 Olly created an upbeat funk song ‘Shout About’, accompanied by a vibrant music video that got everyone moving whilst the broadcast went out live across the globe.
To listen and access all of the work click here.
You can see form the work that the young musicians responded to 50 years since the passing of the landmark Chronically Sick and Disabled Person’s Act 1970, the first ever disability rights legislation in the world. It was pioneered by Alf Morris, MP for Manchester, Wythenshawe, later Lord Morris of Manchester. ‘Alf’s Act’ was groundbreaking. At the time it was passed in the 1970s disabled people were often locked away in institutions, not educated alongside others, rarely regarded as having the potential to live independent lives and not supported to do so.
Manchester Histories worked together with the Morris family, University of Manchester, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, North West TUC, Manchester Metropolitan University and others to produce the digital online festival.
Through a public call out and commissioned work, such as the three musicians supported by this grant, a wonderful montage of disabled people’s lives of all ages and backgrounds, histories, contributions, political struggles, and brilliant creativity was produced. Attracting an audience of over 3000 people, the accessible live broadcasts, stories and artwork are still online.
Three films about Alf’s life and the Act itself were produced by Brazen Productions. Many people from Manchester and beyond were interviewed to create a picture of this very warm, principled and determined man and highlights the impact Alf’s Act had on so many lives here and across the world. Jame’s work was also used in the end title’s of these films, giving his music another opportunity to shine.
Hosted by the brilliant Jackie Hagan – disabled performer, comedian and artist – DigiFest 2020 raised the profile of the ongoing struggles for disabled people’s rights and celebrated the diversity of disabled people’s contributions to making society better for everyone.
Thank you to Sir Robert McAlpine Foundations Grant, supported by Semble for making it all possible. You have supported the work of Manchester Histories and three very talented young musicians.