Begin the World Over Again – Radical thoughts and actions for radical times

Location: Salford and Greater Manchester

Client: Working Class Movement Library and Walk the Plank


Thanks to everyone who responded to our call out for a Social Media Curator and six podcast artists to work on this important collaboration with the Working Class Movement Library.  

We had an overwhelming response and we're now working with six artists and a Social Media Curator, with a view to podcasts going live in mid-November.

The podcast artists will each work alongside one (or possibly two) adults from the Bones of Paine writing group to create a themed podcast that explores radical thinking from the past and offers up some ideas for the future.

Later in the year, we will also be inviting artists to work with groups to respond to the WCML’s collection as well as the podcasts. This will involve working in a participatory way, and there will be a fee of up to £1k for each project.

At this extraordinary moment in all our lives, we're excited to be working, once again, with the Salford-based Working Class Movement Library in a new and exciting collaboration which aims to use the radical thoughts and actions of the past - as documented within the Library’s collection - to prompt new thinking and share it through a series of podcasts.

The project involves working with a group of adults who took part in our previous collaboration,  Bones of Paine (2019), to make six podcasts about significant aspects of the Library's collection and the thinking behind them, exploring any parallels with our contemporary situation and what the future might look like (who knows!) ... but certainly the radical suddenly doesn't seem quite so radical, and the time for change may well be now. Rather than work together as a group, which isn't easy at the moment, each person will work alongside an artist to create a podcast duo.

Each podcast will focus on a different theme, drawing on material from the collection:

The Ballad and the Strike, looking at the General Strike / Pit and Factory PapersEwan MacColl. How, and when, do collective voices join together for change? Artist Alison Surtees working with Tracy

Women's struggles focus including Lancashire Women Against Pit ClosuresManchester & Salford Women’s Trades Council, activist Betty Tebbs  How do we ensure gender equality means more than just votes? Artist Sarah Llewellyn working with Helen

Thomas Paine: challenging the thinking of the status quo / universal income and credit / Shy Radicals What might a welfare state for the 21st Century look like? Artist Dan Steele working with Peter

Joseph Brotherton (Salford City Roots and vegetarianism) / parks / environment - healthy us for healthy places / Kinder Mass Trespass / public rights in privately owned spaces How does being outside help us to be an outsider? Artist Danielle Porter working with Hilary

BaME focus, centred around the Moss Side member of the Communist Party Len Johnson, but also the 1945 Pan African Congress in Manchester plus Black Lives Matter Why now is the time to instigate a change against institutionalised racism Artist Danielle (Lae) Carbon Wilson working with Jemma 

Engels (who celebrates the bi-centenary of his birth this year) / Roy Whitfield's research scrapbook about Engels in Manchester/ the Burns sisters What might Engels scrap from the last 200 years as we look forward beyond 2020 to ensure 'an ounce of action is worth a ton of theory'? Artist Alan Williams working with Christina

We're also working with a Social Media Curator, Siân Roberts, who will work alongside the project’s manager, Ben Turner, and colleagues at the WCML / WTP to help drive the project creatively and artistically, specifically focusing on how to shape the content for a podcast format. This also includes a focus on the collaborations between the podcast duos and amplifying the impact of the source material and collection across other platforms.

This is not the first time the Library have used the collection to inspire a podcast. Listen to Abigail Ward’s podcast, exploring the Manchester and Salford Women’s Trades Council here  And the context of the Manchester and Salford Women's Trades Council material is on the WCML Web site here. 

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand, and a race of men, perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains, are to receive their portion of freedom from the events of a few months. The reflection is awful, and in this point of view, how trifling, how ridiculous, do the little paltry cavilings of a few weak or interested men appear, when weighed against the business of a world.”

Thomas Paine, activist, philosopher and author of the Rights of Man

We will deliver a dynamic digital aspect to the sharing of the Library’s amazing collection, exploring digital possibilities in more depth via a creative engagement project supported by artists. We expect this series of podcasts will offer a strong local place-making connection (linked to Salford’s new Cultural Strategy) as well as exploring radical thinking/action. Each episode will be framed in a forward looking way, exploring parallels between thoughts about community/society from past radicals and the situations/challenges we find ourselves facing currently, from Covid-19 to climate emergency.

How will these be broadcast?

These will then be shared publicly; and in a second phase, groups in Salford / Greater Manchester will work with an artist to make a creative response to the podcast and its subject matter, or another aspect of Library’s collection. The groups are Little Hulton Big Local Youth Unity, Salford Youth Service (Irlam and Cadishead), Irlam and Cadishead Festival and Manchester Consortium of Nature.

“This brave and ambitious new 2020 project involves artists and members of the Library's writing group working together to explore the radical ideas of the Library's collection within a contemporary context. We want each of our podcast duos to bring the same revolutionary verve to their exploration of their chosen themes to provoke new polemic thoughts.”

Ben Turner, Project Manager

Project Specification
Project Scale
Creative Content