On Wednesday I was in Sheffield for the Community Media Association Yorkshire Roadshow. This was the third regional roadshow as part of the CMA’s Arts Project, funded by Arts Council England, to look at the role of community media organisations can play in relation to the arts as a “producer, platform and partner”. Among a range of presentations, we heard from Chorlton Arts Radio in Manchester – a community radio station established in a shopping precinct in Chorlton for the two weeks of the Chorlton Arts Festival in May 2010. The station organised 120 events over 11 days, including a live lunchtime radio play every day and 95 live acts performing in the shop-front studio. 400 people were involved in the station’s activities with 5,000 people listening online and 10,000 website hits over the two weeks of the festival. Local schoolchildren had their own radio shows which included pieces about bullying and Islamophobia and the radio station organised open mic sessions in a local bar. All this success has ensured that Chorlton Arts Radio will return for the 2011 Chorlton Arts Festival, now with substantial funding from the Big Lottery Fund which will enable the station to apply for a FM licence. It was a great example of the way community media organisations can get directly involved in arts activity within a local community.
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