EXCLUSIVE: Pride of Saddleworth arts festival in pipeline to celebrate LGBT+ life

A BRAND new arts festival celebrating LGBT+ life in Saddleworth is set to make its exciting debut next August.

Pride of Saddleworth will bring events including theatre, hiking, art exhibitions, brass bands, tea dances and Britain’s first LGBT Brass Band, created especially for the event, on August 3 and 4.

Pride of Saddleworth Logo

The festival will focus on inclusivity and all events are for everyone, whether you’re gay, lesbian, bi, trans or straight, and is being organised by Saddleworth Live and The Weavers Factory with all proceeds going to local charities.

Julian Bovis, one of the organisers, explained: “Nigel Durkan and I are launching the Weavers Factory art gallery in Uppermill next year and in August are exhibiting one of Britain’s leading gay artists, Sina Sparrow.

“We were busy brainstorming ideas for the exhibition launch when we came up with the idea of a gay pride for Saddleworth.

“At first it sounded like a good idea but there was something missing. We realised that if we were going to have a gay pride event here then it needed to be more than just a normal pride event.

“It needed to speak about where we live and to celebrate everything that’s great about Saddlworth.

And it needed to be for everyone, whether they’re lesbian, gay, bi, trans or straight.

“So we met up with Tim Newbold and Michael Powis from Saddleworth Live and came up with the idea of ‘The Pride of Saddleworth’ – an annual LGBT Arts Festival that champions the area’s traditions with a contemporary twist while raising money for local charities.

“Tim and Michael, who used to own The Swan in Dobcross and now run Saddleworth Live at the Millgate in Delph, are experts at putting on entertainment events, so together we’ve created an ex-citing programme of theatre, music, art, food and walking.

“We’re especially proud to have one of Saddleworth’s most famous brass bands putting together Britain’s first LGBT Brass Band especially for the event.

“Saddleworth Museum and the Parish Council have also been kind enough to offer their spaces for the festival and we’re teaming up with numerous LGBT and LGBT-friendly business across all the villages to host unique weekend events.”

The festival will kick off at 10am on Saturday, August 3 at the Weavers Factory in New Street, Uppermill to start the busy weekend of events.

The festival has already gained the backing of Saddleworth Parish Council after councillors voted unanimously at their September meeting in favour of supporting the event.

Cllr Rob Knotts raised worries the event would not be “inclusive” for straight people while holding a similar hetro-sexual rights event would be seen as “non-politically correct”.

However, Cllr Alan Belmore said: “I am slightly surprised we are having a debate about this.

“It is another sorry reminder of the distance we still have to travel to achieve genuine equality and eradicate discrimination in this country and this area.

“The festival is something we absolutely should be promoting. We need to do more to make sure gay rights are delivered in our community.

“The idea that my rights and opportunities as a straight, white man are somehow diminished by championing rights for the gay community is out-dated.

“This debate comes at a time where it is very clear everyone in our society does not have the same opportunities.

“The #metoo movement, the antisemitism and Islamophobia rows, and indeed this debate on gay rights, show we still have a long way to go before the structural barriers for minority communities are truly torn down.”

Cllr Keith Lucas added: “It is not just a gay pride event, it is for everyone to get involved in. The more we can bring people together, the better.

“I would love to see a gay pride march through Uppermill High Street!”

Find out more online: www.prideofsaddleworth.com

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