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The People’s Powerhouse Convention and Coverage 2019

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It was lovely to be asked to contribute my thoughts to a round up on the third People’s Powerhouse convention which took place in Sunderland last month.

It was definitely my favourite yet – I thought the choice of venue Sunderland’s Beacon Of Light was inspired – it’s great that the movement is helping shine a light on fantastic places and venues around the North where other people and organisations could choose to hold their own event.

As I mention in the round-up for the People’s Powerhouse it was great to see so many arts and culture organisations involved in the event this year. The importance of arts and culture in creating strong and thriving communities can so easily get overlooked – which feels totally wrong. The arts don’t seem to be featuring in anyone’s manifesto in this year’s election –  no one on the news is talking about how working class students should be just as able to go to drama school as anyone else, or how we can make sure more towns and cities have thriving theatres, arts centres and exhibitions spaces. It’s not surprising – but it is depressing. I loved the fact that the BBC Radio Newcastle coverage we secured started not with a policy wonk talking about the Northern Powerhouse but with a young musician called Faye Fantarrow who wowed everyone with her stunning performance at the start of the day.

The value of a slow news day

I’ve found I’m wasting less time each day scrolling on Twitter. There’s the occasional snippet to a really good link (the recent links to past articles by Clive James for example) but more and more I’m finding it wearying rather than inspiring.  I’ve become a big fan of Tortoise and its approach to news-gathering which takes more time to explore and consider the issues rather than just getting a few soundbites and moving on. We put Tortoise and the People’s Powerhouse in touch as we thought it makes total sense – both have an interest in hearing from, and connecting, ordinary people outside the London media bubble. Tortoise held two think-ins at the Sunderland convention; and I hope they’ll also be at next year’s event in Blackpool.

People’s Powerhouse event coverage

The response from media outlets this year was brilliant, with BBC Radio Newcastle, ITV Tyne Tees, Tortoise and the Sunderland Echo all there on the day.

With the buzz surrounding the upcoming election and the leaders’ debate between Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson airing later that evening, we were pleased with the amount of coverage gained on such a busy news day.

The MJ also ran a comment piece by Tracy Fishwick and the FT also wrote about the People’s Powerhouse.

BBC Radio Newcastle mentioned The People’s Powerhouse on both their drivetime show on 19November, followed by another feature on their 20November breakfast show. Meanwhile, BBC Radio Lancashire featured an interview with Tracy Fishwick and some young people who attended the Convention which ran a few days after the event.

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