Our Made in Wigan Minis project aims to provide one contributing answer to the following question:
How do we truly combine the charitable interests of the 3rd sector, the commercial interests of the private sector and the local wealth building interests of the public sector in order to simultaneously employ the out of work in our Borough today and to train our next generation creative workforce of tomorrow?
There has never been an easy answer, but I would like to share with you ours.
Adjectives often ascribed to 3rd sector work include at best “commendable” or “noble” and at worst “worthy!” Whilst the private sector is described, as “innovative” “forward thinking” and “wealth creating”.
The MadeinWigan Minis project has been designed to create a truly collaborative working relationship where ALL sectors, public, private & third, operate as one team.
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”
An oft quoted cliche, but it reflects perfectly what MadeInWigan Mini’s delivers both in support of our town’s local wealth creation ideology and the economic growth of Wigan using the Arts & Culture medium as a driver.
In Wigan, and with this programme, it’s the third sector which is leading to help address the situation affecting the vast majority of our people, [economic inertia in a Northern Town], and by delivering a programme alongside private and public sector professionals, it’s addressed from a social value perspective, and with a long-term commercial strategy to fix it.
It is the third sector which has already made the initial investment using grants and business loans available to it. Moreover the strategy is not, and I stress this, not just “worthy”. We seek to create jobs and wages, not just for future generations, but for the unemployed right here, right now, in places like Platt Bridge, Bickershaw, Hindley, Leigh etc…a large proportion of those unemployed are parents who today are unable to provide support for their own children’s development.
The town has decided to invest heavily in the Arts & Culture economy, as a means of reversing Wigan’s economic fortunes. I think it is true to say there is a high level of scepticism amongst the voting majority of the Town, despite the obvious work being done, right now, by genuine organisations who are committed to making this work, I would like to mention the Old Courts, the artists Al and Al and all creatives active in the borough.
The question is why, is there such scepticism?
A lot of it derives from the very terminology used, ARTS & CULTURE?
I could go into a long explanation as to why I think that very categorisation is considered a pejorative term to the “ordinary working man” but instead I’ll just point out what it suggests and what it lacks to convey.
It suggests elitism, speciality, performance, pretentiousness, privilege, talent etc…
It hides, dedication, work-ethic, co-operation, determination but most of all, as a term, it ignores the myriad of allied and supportive industries, with which the proverbial common man can easily and readily, identify, – electricians, carpenters, cooks, waitresses, cleaners, accountants, marketers, designers, business directors, financiers….etc.etc.etc. without which Arts & Culture evaporates.
The youth of today are our most important asset, after all they’re the ones leading the way, on environmental issues, sexual equality, diversity and inclusion. They’ll no longer accept the status quo, and the world, both commercial and charitable needs to remove any and all barriers, from them achieving their ambitions.
Wigan Mini’s seeks to combine ALL of the elements involved in the above discussion on ARTS & CULTURE both for and against, into one concept…..
So, Wigan Mini’s is…
Speciality, performance, talent, dedication, work-ethic, co-operation, determination, opportunity, electricians, carpenters, cooks, waitresses, cleaners, accountants, marketers, designers, business directors, financiers etc.etc.etc. blended together, with no barriers and no hierarchy of preference nor privilege. Each is essential to the smooth operation and ultimate success of the other.
Let’s try and put all of this into a practical and living example.
Take a primary school in one of the most socially and economically deprived areas of the Town.
Working with the forward thinking head, one of its governors along with a community interest company, developed an idea which, not only aims to increase attendance and performance at the school, but which also seeks to encourage the pupils to develop brand new skills and the ability to think outside the box.
With sessions in Dance & Music, Sport & Literature, Business & Finance, Media & Marketing delivered by expert local business leaders & entrepreneurs, Made In Wigan Minis provides an interactive scheme of work that actually promotes and encourages a line of sight to real-world career opportunities. Minis also does this in line with the Council’s own economic strategies for local wealth creation and the night-time economy.
The vehicle to showcase the concept in action is BEYOND THE PIER.
The original show from 2018 has been enhanced with a script written by co-writers Emma Culshaw and David Paul (authors of the highly successful shows, Ruby Slippers, Achy Breaky Bride and Blood Runs Deep with additional songs by Scott Chapman and Alan Gregory.
The three principal roles will be played by experienced actors, Jenna Sian-O’Hara, Brandon McCaffrey and Stephanie Maloney, giving young performers from both Wigan and Leigh College and ALRA North the opportunity to interact with professionals early in their careers.
Let’s take the first tributary to that sea of future success, the dance sequence highlighted in the show is the first to be choreographed by Donna Harrison, Director at Pianos, Pies and Pirouettes CIC (who shot to worldwide fame when she convinced Wigan Warriors to take ballet into their training schedule) and Roanne Cox (a local Wigan girl who graduated from The Northern Ballet School in 2020). The sequence uses ideas suggested by the pupils taking part in our first Wigan Minis pilot scheme. Donna & Roanne are ably assisted by students from Wigan & Leigh college, who have since taught the sequence to our primary pupils – this demonstrates that line of sight, from school to performing arts education in their own Town.
Our second rivulet sees pupils who did not see the performance side of the Arts as their forte, but who wished to take part in the production, operating the lighting used in the sequence, (representing the Davy Lamps in the mines) taught those skills by Leisuretec (UK) Ltd, (one of the country’s foremost providers of sound and light equipment to the hospitality, arts and sporting industries, most notable locally to Wigan Warriors and Wigan Athletic)
The third business brook, provides the digital and printed communications designed to promote all aspects of Beyond the Pier and the Minis project …ideas and suggestions from the pupils being put into graphic format by local design agency Magicalogical and Internationally renowned children’s author, illustrator, TV and film scriptwriter Vince Cleghorne.
Our fourth wish-list watercourse is age-appropriate business knowledge and acumen taught by Andy Taylor, from Made In Wigan, aimed at those pupils who want to understand and assist in the background work which goes into financing and producing a profitable show…..no mean task these days.
Fifthly, a stream of endless stamina and determination from all the above sectors and the winning mentality, is provided by the training and mental well-being afforded by our Minis project partners at Wigan Warriors Rugby League Club.
Last but not least, attendees at all related events will be interviewed and recorded by pupils who have honed their skills under the expert guidance of the Media-Cubs team.
But what next?
The full production of the show, in 2023 will need costumes, props and sets, all of which will be designed and constructed, under the guidance of professionals, by the parents of these children. The aim will be to create permanent, paid opportunities for them too. Initially, we’ll deliver learning workshops at designated hubs, which will include, how to set up in business on your own. These learning hubs will be situated within buildings of local importance, which have fallen into some disuse given fresh purpose by Wigan & Leigh Community Charity amongst others. Creating dance schools, leisure and heritage facilities to put those assets once more at the heart of the individual communities.
We hope that you can see the mighty force of nature that occurs when tributaries, rivers and streams combine, as this project has, into one great waterway, that carries all before it?
And so, in simple terms – it is our aim with this project, to create a tsunami of opportunity for all ages, creeds and colours to ensure the sustainability, and security of local wealth creation in Wigan and thus the prosperity of all its residents for years to come.