Giving Tuesday – Royal Exchange launches scheme to get more people attending theatre

Today is Giving Tuesday and the Royal Exchange Theatre has the perfect gift for theatre lovers.

To coincide with the global day of giving, the city centre theatre has launched a scheme called Arts Pot.

The initiative is a bursary which helps towards the cost of tickets, travel expenses, workshop and project fees for people who may not otherwise be able to attend plays and shows.

Last year, the scheme raised more than £10,000 thanks to the generosity of the venue’s audiences during interval and end-of-show ‘bucket shaking’.

Above is a short film narrated by theatre ambassador Maxine Peake, who has starred in many production and the famous theatre in the round, including Hamlet and The Skriker as part of MIF 2015, showing exactly where that cash went.

Maxine Peake as a demon faerie in The Skriker.

ARTS POT 2014 paid for:

296 People to take part in over 1000 workshops, community projects and productions

1183 people to receive free and subsidised tickets to more than 20 shows at the Royal Exchange Theatre

125 people to travel to and from the theatre throughout the year

The Royal Exchange is working with other local charities, organisations and Giving Tuesday in a steering group for ‘Manchester Gives More’ – a city initiative to make Manchester the most philanthropic city in the country.

Donations to Arts Pot can be made online or by texting EXCH16 £5 to 70070.


Maxine Peake, Nico Mirallegro, Cel Spellman, and Julie Hesmondhalgh say Stand Up To Racism. Refugees Welcome Here.

In the run up to the Tory Party Conference in Manchester during the first week of October, Greater Manchester based actors have Stood Up to Racism and backed this coming Saturday’s (12 Sept) launch that is part of a National Day to Support Refugees.

As we face the largest refugee crisis since World War Two, Manchester’s Stand Up to Racism launch event this Saturday will be concentrating on how people from here can reach out to the refugees who are already here, alongside those in Calais.

At the People’s Assembly rally last night in the city centre, hundreds gathered to hear speeches urging everyone to get onto Multicultural Manchester’s streets next month and make it crystal clear to the Tories that this city is against both the Austerity and the Racism that goes hand in hand with it.

Maxine Peake previews the Challenge Cup final between Hull Kingston Rovers v Leeds Rhinos

Actress and rugby league fan Maxine Peake previews the Challenge Cup final between Hull Kingston Rovers v Leeds Rhinos.

Watch the Challenge Cup Final live on BBC One and online from 14:30 BST on Saturday.

Available to UK users only.

Watch it here.

Maxine Peake reads Shelley’s Masque of Anarchy for Peterloo Massacre Memorial

Here is a video and a selection of photos from the Peterloo Massacre Memorial today in Manchester, recognising those who were killed and injured in protesting for the reform of parliamentary representation in 1819. Amongst the many people gathered were a few famous faces including Maxine Peake reading Shelley’s Masque of Anarchy, Christopher Ecclestone, John Thompson and John Henshaw:

Thanks to garethhgeorge for the video and photos!

The Moonlandingz Set To Tour UK

The Moonlandingz comprised of 1 part Fat White Family and 1 part Eccentronic Research Council are on whole lot of band. Their track ‘Sweet Saturn Mine’ absolutely tore our faces off when it was released a few months back and now the band are ready to start a UK tour, but as Adrian Flanagan explains they started out as a fictional band.

“The latest ERC album is an electronic spoken word concept album featuring actress Maxine Peake (Shameless,The Falling, Silk), who plays a stalker obsessed by the lead singer of a (fictional) band called The Moonlandingz. I thought to flesh the album out it would be cool to create an actual band around the narrative, so I called up Saul & Lias from the Fat White Family, who I hit it off with a few months earlier, at a now, legendary Fat Whites show in Sheffield that ended in bodily matter being smeared & thrown around, possibly encouraged pre-show, by myself (laughs). So anyway, I asked them if they wanted to be in my fictional band and they were dead up for it. They came up to Sheffield & we wrote an EP’s worth of songs at ERC member, Dean Honer’s studio. One of which, ‘Sweet Saturn Mine’ totally blew up on the radio, 6 Music were playing it daily for a couple of months, so this fictional band took on a life of its own, getting actual non fictional fans of their own (even Jason Sleaford Mods is in to us, ha) and all of a sudden I’m getting loads of messages from promoters all over Europe saying they want us to do shows. Which I had to turn down as we weren’t a real band and we only had 4 songs.

To be honest, I think we were all surprised of how much people took to the songs and the band, so we decided to get together over this summer to write more songs and get a little live set together, it’s already sounding pretty amazing. Lias has moved up to Sheffield for the summer writing words & laying down vocals with us & we’ve got Saul coming up sporadically, to summon up some demonic sonics. That kids one of the best guitarists and songwriters out there right now. It really fucking works, Dean & I, a couple of old beardy analogue twonks with a penchant for real ale & witchcraft & Lias & Saul, furious, filthy & quite likely, incredibly high. It’s a very sexy combination.”

As well as all this excitement the band will also be releasing an expanded EP via Sean Lennon and a video which is “All kinds of wrong” according to Flanagan. “Come Autumn, we hope to be the most hated fictional band by Christian rednecks in the U.S, they love getting wound up by stuff that doesn’t even exist though, don’t they?”

Bring on the Autumn!

25th August – Glasgow – Broadcast

26th August – Leeds – Belgrave Music Hall

27th August – Manchester – Night & Day Cafe

28th August – London – The Lexington

29th August – Sheffield – Picture House Social