This Vibrant Thing was a three day festival of music, dance, spoken word and activities, spread over the last three Saturdays in three of the city's district libraries. It was an initiative by Manchester City Council who have a passion for arts and creativity in the community to widen the community's knowledge and usage of the libraries and for the communities involved to develop a greater understanding of the local libraries and to banish the thought that a library is just for educated people to learn more in a quiet and stymied space. Libraries are places for and about the community and can be used as meeting areas, as well as for workshops, discussions, and indeed events. Age, ability, gender, ethnicity or disability really does not matter. All are equally welcome.
This Saturday at Harpurhey the entire ground floor space of the library was made into an improvised stage, and performing on that stage we heard music from Manchester band, 8 Gold Rings; already well known within the music scene as a freelance rhythm section for solo artistes, but today proved their worth on their own as four of their members entertained us with their own unique sound. This was followed by a duet who had formed to make this group especially for the concert and called themselves Blu Steel. Playing steel pans they entertained us with traditional melodies, reggae, a little classical and even a mix of 'Rock Around The Clock' and 'In The Mood'.
More music was heard later on in the day when the 7 women of the WAST Choir, all identically and smartly dressed took to the stage and sang songs about women and empowerment and being recognised within Manchester and being equal. These messages were sung using traditional African tribal rhythms. Interesting.
The event finished with singer / songwriter HMD singing some of his original songs.
In between all of this MAD Theatre Company presented a performance poem entitled, 'If It's Not Love Then It's The Bomb That Will Bring Us Together'. Three young teenagers; Mia, James and Carter, sang, spoke and danced their way through this paean to Manchester and its spirit. We also heard a poem called 'Language' delivered by Anisha Loco, who talked about the problems facing youths with mental health issues blaming the rise in social media making it easier for young people to hurt others mentally without any backlash.
More music and dance was provided for in the form of Amplify Mcr, a platform for young people borough-wide to express their identity through music; and KYSO, a South Manchester theatre and performance youth group. Amongst the youths taking part in these mini-showcases, were Funyana and Dariah [2 young girls who sang their own composition 'Why'], breakdancing, Jamaican Street dancing, rapping, Tina [a young girl singing 'I Feel Like I'm Ready For Love'], and a singer / songwriter called Swiss singing his own material.
Whilst all of this was happening on the ground floor, upstairs was given over to workshops and children's activities. There was canvas painting workshops, zine and badge making workshops, head-dress and mask making, and storytelling for the youngsters. There was also a digital art exhibition by Wai Yin Youth Group. promoting health awareness within the community.
Free food was provided during the lunch hour by Amy Win of 4lunch, and despite a really poor turnout [the vast majority of the day's audience was family and fellow performers] the groups still went ahead and gave their all, which is full credit to all of them. I applaud the libraries for organising and promoting events such as these, it was such a shame that this particular community didn't really appreciate or perhaps even know about what was happening on their doorstep.
Reportage - Matthew Dougall
on - 24/2/18