Mad Friday

Ah Mad Friday – in Wigan. How the locals love it.
That and Boxing Day when they all dress up in whacky costumes. And of course when Easter calls they all go up to The Brocket and sit outside. Show off, rev their engines, flex their steroid-fuelled muscles. Chat to the sun bed Shirleys. Talk about rugby.
That is what Wigan is all about.
Want a bit of culture? Forget it. Art gallery? There isn’t one. Gigs? If you like folk – then the er… folks that put on the concerts at the Parish Church are doing well. After that?
Theatre, exhibitions, opening nights, performance art, readings, poetry… Nothing. Absolutely bugger-all.
The year in the arts in Wigan 2013 = one blank page.
People have tried, I’ve tried. I’ve tried speaking to the council about something for next summer. I have to go back to them in the New Year. I’m not hopeful. “Cuts,” I’m told. Possibly but what have Wigan Council ever done for the arts and culture in Wigan? What have they done for anybody other than rugby league clubs?
Oh yeah sure they hijack campaigns such as ‘Believe’ and rope the rugby lot in. I mean a few pissed-up lads singing Monkees’ songs and now it’s all over Wigan – in red now naturally but, but I digress.
Yes the year in culture comprises of a few concerts and (yet more) Northern Soul functions. Wigan loves Northern Soul. It’s in the papers all the time, next to the rugby and world pie-eating championships. Nothing cutting- edge happens, nothing happens at all… Yet Wigan people don’t seem bothered. They look forward to Mad Friday and Boxing Day fancy dress. Maybe they were never bothered. Maybe all the artistic types have left. The people that have tried have put their heart and soul into it. Maybe the people in Wigan that are needed to support these events aren’t there. However I’m not sure that’s the case. Plenty of all ages get the train to Manchester and Liverpool for a whole myriad of cultural pastimes. All we ask for is some help in setting something up. An arts centre – is that too much to ask for? A place for Wiganers aged between six and 106.
The town/council’s latest commercial development seems to be a mini-Printworks in the old and almost- empty Marketgate shopping centre. A mini-Printworks FFS! It’s bad enough being told to be grateful for the Grand Arcade. The Grand Arcade FFS. A load of High Street shops that some of us will never enter if we live until we are 106.
But we are told by the hoi polloi of the town and the council how good the place is. You know what ten miles down the road in St Helens: There’s no big Debenhams or H & M or Bank or Next. But there are plenty of other similar shops and most importantly there is also The Citadel arts centre. St Helens are mighty proud of it.
It might not seem much to the leaders of Wigan Council and their like but to some of us something similar would help us get through these turgid times just a little easier.
Then again the masses will be out today, tonight and over Christmas and as long as the tills are ticking over in the pubs, pie shops and High Street stores they’ll be happy. Most of the Wigan public will be happy but some of us know there will never be another Verve. There will never be another cutting-edge club. The arts in Wigan are on their arse. Sadly most people in Wigan don’t seem to mind.
Happy Mad Friday!

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