Radical thoughts and actions for radical times

Date: 1 August 2020 to 30 November 2020

Location: Salford and Greater Manchester

Client: Working Class Movement Library and Walk the Plank

A suite of six new podcasts created by artists working from the Working Class Movement Library's collection of material.



Conceived during CV-19 lockdown, this exciting collaboration 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 suite of six podcasts. The podcasts will cover a range of themes from what the welfare state should look like in the 21st century to challenging institutionalised racism within the context of Black Lives Matter.

“This brave and ambitious 2020 project involves artists and members of the Library's writing group working together to explore the radical ideas of the 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, Walk the Plank’s project co-ordinator.

The project has been made possible through Arts Council Emergency funds.

Each podcast will draw on material from the collection:

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

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

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

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

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

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'? Engels (2020 is bicentenary of his birth) Roy Whitfield's research scrapbook about Engels in Manchester/ the Burns sisters  Artist Alan Williams working with Christina

Social Media Curator Siân Roberts is working alongside the artists, project manager, Ben Turner, and colleagues at WCML / WTP to amplify the impact of the project.

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.

“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, author: Rights of Man

The podcasts will be shared publicly from November 2020; and in a second phase, groups in Salford / Greater Manchester will work with an artist to make a creative response to the podcasts. Groups include: Little Hulton Big Local Youth Unity, Salford Youth Service (Irlam and Cadishead), Irlam and Cadishead Festival and Manchester Consortium of Nature.

Press Release - Begin the World Over Again

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