All posts by bekahtamsin

Artist call-out: PARADISE NOW

Attention ARTISTS, PERFORMERS, PHOTOGRAPHERS, FILM MAKERS, WRITERS, THINKERS, ILLUSTRATORS! M20 Collective and Rachel Ferguson have joined forces to curate an exhibition to take place this summer. AND WE NEED YOU!
the brief

The exhibition is titled Paradise Now. We are looking for creators who question/agree with the following statement:

Daily we live and abide by a set of rules. Rules of law, rules set in place by those who govern us. Rules set in place by each other and society. Rules that go unnoticed, sometimes un-governed and sometimes un-questioned. However what happens when we begin to truly break down these rules? Can we achieve our sense of being in today’s society?
Don’t eat on the bus
Say please and thank you
Don’t take off your clothes in public
Why isn’t that person allowed to stay here?

Are we living to achieve social acceptance? Has our basic mammal instinct for curiosity been flattened by being told not to touch the wet paint? Or hasn’t it?

In the 1960s radical theatre group ‘The Living Theatre’ ran a show called ‘Paradise Now’. During the performance they shouted a series of questions at the audience: ‘Why can’t I travel without my passport?’ ‘Why cant I smoke marijuana?’ ‘Why can’t I take off my clothes?’ The performances took place in Manhattan. The performance would always be shut down by the police at the point of removal of clothes. They threw simple questions at the audience, which aimed to set in motion in the ‘common man’ a thought process: ‘wait? Why am I doing this? This is my world. This is my reality’.

THIS IS AN OPEN CALL. We would like to curate an exhibition finding creators which deal, question, and are inspired by any of the above or further afield. All neo-liberal, political, social commentary and documentation, any and all art which poses a question, which makes us question how we exist. Which makes us ask how we create our own ‘paradise’ how we create our own reality. QUESTION EVERYTHING.

DEADLINE: 24TH JULY FOR ALL SUBMISSIONS

PLEASE INCLUDE: Tech Spec for your work in your submission.

NB: M20 Collective will be providing you with the space to exhibit, unfortunately we do not have public funding for this project and therefore no budget for artists, but will facilitate the sourcing of resources that we can get for free and support all collaborators as best as possible in the run up to the show including any hospitality for the vent itself and general planning support and liaison.

Please send all submissions to the following email address;
curation.rachel@gmail.com and cc: m20collective@gmail.com

Twisted Tubes and M20Collective present…: Friday 24 April

CARNIVAL IS COMING TO TOWN – and it’s gonna get twisted…

On Friday 24 April, Twisted Tubes and M20Collective present a night of 40s side show-inspired madness and debauchery. Join us as we transform a warehouse into a carnival of dark and mysterious interactive art, sounds and performance where the mundane will become the miraculous and nothing is as it seems…

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Massive thanks to Doodlesndrips for the artwork!

This will be a celebration of the UK tour launch for brass collective Twisted Tubes, who Joel recently interviewed – have a read and find out more about them here. They will be joined on stage by a whole host of their favourite live acts and DJs: the mighty Dub Smugglers, high-octane bluesmen Salutation Dub Collective and vinyl-spinning Congo Tuff.

Keep following #twistedtubes for updates…

details

when? Friday 24 April 2015, 21:30 – 03:00
where? 1 Primrose Street, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6AQ
how much? Early Bird £2 / Second Release £4/ Final Release £6

Read Groovement’s preview of the night with Joel on what’s coming up – on the night and for M20Collective

Get your tickets from partyforthepeople here

Head to M20Collective’s FB page to enter the competition for free tickets!

Manchester’s Fight for Free Education: Saturday 25 April

Alex chats to campaigner and Manchester University’s Education Officer Harriet about the Free Education MCR movement – what free education means, why it affects us all, and their debut event with Akala and others on Saturday 25 April

The phrase ‘Free Education’ has become solely associated with the campaign for government-subsidised university places since the introduction of fees in Higher Education. But it’s not just finances – there are other ways that our learning is restricted in all parts of the education system from schools to community projects. It is these, alongside the fight to scrap student fees, that Free Education MCR are looking to tackle.

What telltale signs can you think of that show us our education isn’t free? The introduction of fees, which transform education into a product that we buy and sell, rather than skills development that allows us to think critically, creatively and practically about how we want the world to be? Or the lesser-talked about colonized education system (for which the Black Minority & Ethnic [BME] students’ attainment gap, explained below, is just one piece of hard evidence)? How about the systematic neglect of arts and humanities education in favour of subjects deemed more “economically efficient”? I sat down with Harriet, one of the key members in Free Education MCR, to find out more about the organisation and their hopes for next week’s all-day community event, Free Education MCR ft. Akala.

“Making education cost has changed the shape of knowledge”

Harriet has spent her recent years as a campaigner and as Education Officer at the University of Manchester Students’ Union, fighting for free education because privatising university learning (asking people to pay fees as opposed to the government subsidising it) has changed both what education is and what it means. Today, education has become a commodity, a product we consume to get a job and fit into society’s plans for us – but this was not always the situation with our education system. Tuition fees were first introduced across all UK universities in 1998 and since then, steadily rising fees have gone hand-in-hand with the transformation of the purpose of education. “Making education cost has changed the shape of knowledge: it has gone from being a tool for collective liberation and reducing inequality to being something people feel they need to buy into in order to secure employment as a ‘valued’ white-collar worker, just because it’s what the perceived majority (white, middle classes) are doing.”

But many aspects of the Free Education MCR campaign are not exclusive to Higher Education, with privatisation affecting all parts of the education sector. Notably, youth and community projects who rely on government support are suffering as they cannot afford to continue without sourcing funding from other private sources. Without steady funding, youth projects all over Manchester are forced to refocus their efforts on securing funding rather than delivering quality youth work. The solution to this so far has been for youth centres to apply for funding from private companies, meaning that community identity is often compromised in order to meet the requirements for the much-needed support. The companies are motivated to fund these centres because of their needs to meet their Social Responsibility targets.

Whilst it is great that youth groups are able to exist at all, these larger organisations mean that long-founded youth centres with a strong community are being threatened because they cannot support themselves whilst offering a free service. These closures are especially harmful because initiatives like youth and community centres are so often set up to support those who are continually failed by the formal education system. Not only do youth and community projects provide alternative creative and practical approaches to learning that are better for certain people’s development, they also deliver the kinds of pastoral support that are not available in schools where students are taught to obey rather than question; taught who to be at the expense of who they are.

Akala, one of the big names speaking at Free Education MCR’s debut event, looks to address this with a discussion about the ban of words like ‘bare’ and ‘innit’ in schools, which he argues is both classist and racist. The idea that there is only one correct way to speak the English language is elitist and, as Harriet (quoting Akala) pointed out, actually counter-creative and -critical. To limit how the language should be spoken to one particular dialect misrepresents what it means to be English and crams it into the American stereotype of British people sipping tea and saying please and thank you after everything. As I am sure anyone who has lived in the UK could account for this is not the reality. The question that arises from this is how can it be justifiable for the education system to value one dialect over another? As Harriet explains this line of critical thinking can be applied to many more aspects of the education system and to the conclusion that the system functions to engender white middle-class, male-stream, able-bodied norms and values. The issue identified here is that those who do not comply to these norms and values are automatically devalued by the education system.

What many like Harriet involved in the Free Education MCR believe is that this devaluation contributes to issues such as the BME attainment gap. However, issues like the BME attainment gap do not have one singular cause. Instead such issues occur due to the existence of a number of inter relating factors. As Harriet went on to discuss currently BME students who achieve the same grades as their white counterparts at school-level are 11% less likely to get a first or 2:1 at the University of Manchester, and as much as 26% in the Faculty of Life Sciences. While devaluation is one factor to consider as research conducted by the NUS Black Students Campaign suggests the gap can also be attributed to the existence of a colonised education system, lacking especially black, but also women academics.

During our conversation Harriet evidenced the abysmal representation of Black people in academia. According to research recently conducted by HESA there are currently 18,000 academics in the UK and only 85 are black . To put it into context that is just over 0.5%. Women’s representation is also concerning. In the University of Manchester only 20% of professors are women and this is not at all a deviation of the norm. Due to the absence of legislation Higher Education institutions have the academic freedom to hire who they want. One of the unfortunate results of this is that the education system remains dominated by white middle class males.

“There needs to be pressure to employ a representative staff and take on a quota of people to ensure that a) we are given equal opportunities and b) all groups have the chance to influence what and how we learn, so that the formal education system reflects the needs of society and not just one group within it.”

Free Education MCR are campaigning for a representative curriculum and support efforts to make history more inclusive in schools. The community event will also feature speakers from Curriculum Enrichment for the Future and The Foundation for Science, Technology & Civilisation who, among other things, teach Indian and Persian histories to supplement Eurocentric schemes of learning. The thinking behind a representative history is that a liberated education is one where everyone can see, learn and live in the ways with which they identify. Your opportunity to hear these groups speak about the issues surrounding a colonised education and any issues discussed here is on Saturday 25th April at Manchester Academy for Free Education MCR’s launch event.

“What Free Education MCR are fighting for is a reinvention of education,” says Harriet. “This involves changing the economic, social and political aspects of education in order that it benefits all of society and enables us to tackle huge social problems like inequality.” Citizens will benefit from free education because it would involve broadening out education to represent and legitimize the learning styles and skills of all people. Free education is not about glorifying academic education and forcing everyone to go to university. It’s about funding a multitude of practical, technical, vocational, creative and critical projects, so that everyone can find something for them. This would also reduce the fear amongst small organisations like community centres that they will have to close, as well as providing thousands of education providers with a steady and secure livelihood.

On top of this, Harriet pointed out that with the reduction of government funds in the education system comes the loss of democratic power for citizens: if you don’t pay, you don’t get a say. This inevitably and disproportionately affects and disempowers poorer communities. “Living in a democracy, something as central to our society as education should be as democratic as possible and with the introduction of fees and privatisation, our ability to have a say that means something gets reduced. This means that those in power are getting more powerful and those who are meant to be catered for in education systems are actually getting less say in matters that directly relate to them.” This is not the way education should be and Free Education MCR are looking to change this for the better by reinstating the power over education to local communities. I am hopeful and excited to see what campaigns and events this group have to offer in the future. They are an important force in changing Manchester’s (and perhaps even the rest of the UK’s) education system for the better.

-Alex Webb and Harriet Pugh

To learn more about Free Education MCR check out their sites:
www.facebook.com/freeeducationmcr
www.twitter.com/freeedmcr

Check out the event and register for your free ticket:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1395395447444900/
(Tickets available at: www.freeeducationmcr.eventbrite.hk)

Vacancy: Engagement Assistant at HOME MCR

Engagement Assistant

Salary: £17,000

HOME MCR are looking for a highly organised administrator and project assistant to work within their Engagement team. This is an exciting and unique opportunity to work across theatre, film and art at Manchester’s largest cultural venue opening Spring 2015.

You will be an efficient administrator and a great people person with a passion for the arts and an extremely organised and self-motivated character. You will have experience in a range of administrative areas and will be able to collate information from across different programme areas clearly and concisely for use in funding reports and other stakeholder documents.

Liaising with various people, from artists and programmers, to young people and community members of all ages will be second nature to you and you will have the communication skills to cater information sharing as appropriate for various people with different learning styles.

This is a core team role, which will play a major part in shaping HOME’s engagement work and will involve working across the programme.

Closing date for applications: 17:00 on Fri 13 Mar 2015
Interviews will take place on: Thu 19 Mar 2015

For further details and to apply, click here

Future Sounds of Mzansi: Friday 13th March

Theo Kotz previews the Manchester screening of Future Sounds of Mzansi, a journey through the music of the townships, the cape and more

This Friday Oh Bacchanal! is bringing a Manchester first screening Future Sound of Mzansi at Islington Mill. After which the party is on with the man himself, Spoek Mathambo spinning tunes from the townships.

Oh Bacchanal! have been making waves in recent months with their regular shows at The Zombie Shack and Overproof and alongside Spoek, resident Bachannal Ronin brings  his selection of Tropical
bangers into the melting pot. Have a listen to this mix for a little taste:

The Film itself is an in-depth look at the musical landscape of South Africa, chock-full of inspirational tales and words of wisdom and insight from some of the country’s most renowned artists, as well as some exciting newcomers. These span from the township grooves of DJ Spoko and DJ Mustava (who as a pair are responsible for Township Funk – A monumental tune and the scene’s largest global hit to date) and the heart and soul of House in SA – Black Coffee, to the ethereal soundscapes of Felix Laband and the fun-loving experimentation of John Wizards.

Lebogang Rasethaba and Spoek Mathambo - Photographer credit Justice Mukheli 2

The film does much to celebrate and spread the staggering wealth of undeniable talent from this most beautiful and diverse of countries – all through the lens of Nthato Mokagata. Spoek Mathambo, as he’s more widely known, is SA’s own renaissance man, a truly singular talent who’s Midas Touch it would seem knows no bounds.

Spoek is an Artist, Producer, DJ, Songwriter, Rapper and, latterly, filmmaker. His latest solo album Father Creeper was released in 2012. More recently he, Andrew Geldenhuys, Bhekisenzo Cele, Michael Buchanan formed Fantasma along with another titan of South African electronic music: DJ Spoko. Their recent show in London (5th march) was a triumph despite the absence of Spoko and Geldenhuys due to problems with Visas. Their debut full-length Free Love was released Monday 9th March. It’s a stormer and you can stream on YouTube below.

There will be a Q&A with Spoek Mathambo after the screening.

details

When: Friday 13 March 2015, 7.30pm

Where: Islington Mill

How much: £16

Buy tickets here

 

Free Education MCR Fundraiser: Friday 20th March

Join M20 Collective back in the postcode where it all began for a collaboration with the FREE EDUCATION MCR campaign. All proceeds will go towards supporting their mission to raise awareness about and encourage the movement away from a fee-based system and towards universal free higher education – just like they have in Germany and Denmark. There will be live acoustic acts and vinyl spinning from:

on the stage

Congo Tuff B2B Cutwerk

Expect roots, hip hop, jazz, reggae, beats, world and more

Treedrum

Happy rhythms and positive thinking from drum maestro and vocalist Craig Winterburn

The Shaded Arrows

Kid Katharsis

Tacit

statement from FREE EDUCATION MCR

At FREE EDUCATION MANCHESTER we believe that education is a tool for building a fairer society. Education should be funded socially so that it can be managed democratically in order to empower people from all backgrounds to define what our education system looks like and learn in ways that best suit them. Free education would facilitate more creative, critical and practical approaches to learning that reflect the diverse needs of all people.This means funding schools, further education, youth centres, technical colleges, art colleges, community projects, universities and postgraduate study so that everyone has access to life-long learning.

details

When? Friday 20th March 2015, 8pm til late

Where? Fuel, Withington High Street

How much? £3 OTD

On facebook

Have a look at what Harriet, Manchester University’s Education Officer, says on the case for free education

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Verbose’s Relaunch

Fallow Café’s Verbose was my regular spoken word night in 2014 and I was gutted to see it go on hiatus in June. Fortunately, under Sarah-Clare Conlon’s new supervision, Verbose is back and bigger than ever! Whilst I have fond memories of 2014’s Verbose and how Helen Isserlis ran it, it would be misleading to say that this new iteration of the night continues in the same vein as before. Verbose is reincarnated in Conlon’s hands with monthly headliners guaranteed and a huge variety of open mic acts as well as publications from some of Manchester’s newest authors. For January’s Verbose, we were treated to performances from Conlon herself and the publishing collective, Inklings. These performers are well-established Manchester acts with several publications between them. This proved to be a good thing as I was drawn in by their performances and ended up leaving the night with two new collections to check out! The key standouts from Inklings, for me, were David Gaffney (via video as he could not make it) and Sian Cummins who presented new interpretations of what it means to write and be a writer. I was shocked and ecstatic to see just how many people turned up to this event! This was all thanks to Conlon’s advertising of the night, drawing in a huge crowd with people standing on the stairs just so they could listen. It was a success in all senses. However, it would have been nothing if not for the open mic-ers. I often think that it is the open mic slots that make, or break, a night because you see a range of artists from first-timers to professionals and seeing different styles filter through their writing is inspirational. It is in the open mic that you see people practice new material and if you are lucky you’ll see people have realisations and perform a piece in an entirely different way. I know Verbose has done that for me in the past. What Verbose focuses on is the variety of writing and spoken word: from prose to poetry to improv, you can find anything you can imagine at this night. My favourite performance of the night was done by an adorable open mic-er who offered us a piece about Bic pens and sexism (it has to be seen for full impact) to huge rounds of applause. Another stand-out performer was Andrew Georgeson, a hilarious act who discussed his conversation with a moth ending with roars of laughter. He is an act I am eager to see more of and, if this performance was anything to go by, anyone who has the opportunity to see Georgeson in his element would be foolish not to take it up. Doors open at 7.30pm for Verbose, every final Monday of the month, and I would recommend getting there early if only to get a seat. Although, you should treat yourself to some of Fallow’s delicious food (even if it is a bit pricey) and their amazing drinks and cocktails whilst you are waiting! The next event is Monday 23 February where Curious Tales will bring their exciting entries to the Manchester literature scene. It is going to be a fantastic night for sure and I look forward to seeing just as many people as last time in February. Treat yourself during this month of love and hear some heartbroken poets lament, it’ll be a highlight of your month for sure. Alex Webb

February’s Verbose – attend on Facebook

Check out the new Verbose website here for updates and news

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Who is Keisha Thompson a.k.a. SheBeKeke?

Alex talks to Keisha Thompson about what inspires her writing, what Young Identity hopes to achieve and the Manchester literature scene in general

Have you heard SheBeKeke? With an already more-than-impressive portfolio, Keisha Thompson is a valuable member of Manchester’s poetry circuit. As well as being a key member of Inna Voice, another creative group within Young Identity, she recently released her own EP, Abecedarian, and has been published in numerous anthologies.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing Keisha perform a number of times. At each performance, I’ve been struck by how she manages to bring new character and life to the poems (even the ones I’ve heard before), whilst at the same time retaining something undeniably “Keisha-y”. This combination of constant reinvention and a strong creative signature is something she shares with a lot of her fellow Young Identity talent: they all excel in showing one piece in many different lights whilst still putting a personal stamp on their work.

And this personal touch is present throughout the whole creative process: Keisha’s work, for the most part, is based on her own experiences of the world, her family and responses to the political/social landscape around us. Discussing inspiration, she brought up the powerful connection between her identity and her family heritage. In ‘Fickle’, a piece on her EP, Thompson examines her relationship with her father, and how it in turn facilitates her understanding of her own heritage.

Being British with a Jamaican father and Guyanese mother, the identification process is not simple: she does not feel as though any of these three identities/nationalities is wholly her. When she was younger, she never felt particularly British because her household held a lot of Guyanese traditions – but when she was five and visited Guyana, she was no longer so sure she felt so Guyanese. Describing it as a “weird one”, she concluded that she is always somewhere in the middle of being Guyanese, British and Jamaican – though all three identities certainly inspire her.

“Once I’ve processed it, I can write about it”

And Keisha’s own heritage isn’t the only thing from across the world that gets her writing. In terms of the social and political inspirations for her work, tragedies like those that took place in Ferguson last summer, when unarmed black teenager Mike Brown was murdered by white cop Darren Wilson, are important creative sources. But with heavy issues like racism and violence, getting pen to paper can take longer. “I get angry about these things but it takes me a while to process it; I need to process it. Once I’ve processed it, I can write about it,” explained Keisha. Indeed for many writers, taking a step back from material is necessary in order to walk the difficult ground between raw, blunt emotions and tailoring language to suit a creative purpose.

Relating to the Mike Brown case, as well as countless other crimes against people of colour, we discussed Keisha’s views on the need for – and lack of – white voices in race debates. Thompson argued that white voices are necessary when violence happens, because racism is not just ‘a black issue’ – “all races need to acknowledge that racism exists and move forward with that.” Here referencing social theorist Dr Joy DeGruy,  she highlighted the key differences between American and English politics: Keisha sees it that voices from all corners of American society can contribute to discussions about the rights and experiences of those from minority groups, even with only a basic understanding of the issues at hand. But in England, she argued, there is a hostility towards approaching an issue if you are not a member of the group being discussed. This was something I could definitely relate to: in my experience, England is more focused on drawing the lines round “who can say what about what” than on actually getting problems heard and discussed.

“They aren’t just playing with words, they also want to be the voice behind them”

Talk turned to focus on poetry as a vehicle for political speech in general. Is spoken word/rap/poetry more powerful than conventional speech when it comes to communicating ideas to people? Again, the differences between the US and the UK came up. “In America, it is way more powerful than here. When I go to places in New York they aren’t just playing with words, they also want to be the voice behind them” said the performer, noting that in Britain it is much easier to go to an event and not stumble across any political ideas. For various reasons, she felt that the spoken word scene in America was a lot more lively – but she takes inspiration from the fact that it is beginning to stand on its own as a viable platform for creative expression separate from the written/literary scene.

Young Identity, the group of young writers based out of Contact Theatre, are a group changing the narrative on what spoken word is, and can do, here in the UK. As we’ve seen from their constantly growing body of work, which brilliantly fuses the political, the everyday and the creative, they aim to change the game of Manchester’s poetry scene by trying to get people talking about current topics, focusing on politics and thinking actively about their own lives. As evidences this, Keisha noted that in the last One Mic Stand “everyone was doing politics and everyone was brilliant; the quality was outstanding”. Having gone to a previous One Mic Stand, Young Identity’s regular poetry slam, I can vouch for this. At the night I performed at, thoughts on equal rights, sexism and abuse were interwoven boldly and seamlessly with powerful, emotive language, bringing the room alive with the honesty of the work.

As with many Young Identity members, Keisha also works with Inna Voice. Helpfully, she explained the difference between the two groups: “When it first started, Young Identity was the writing group, and then as we started to slam we had Inna Voice. Not everyone was willing or ready to perform from Young Identity so it was easy to make Inna Voice the focus of performance”. Since then, Inna Voice has progressed and it is now its own company, a selective group that are hoping to put on a show next year.

Finally, who would Keisha recommend checking out? In Manchester, Ben Miller, Elmi Ali and Shirley May (one of the driving forces behind Young Identity’s One Mic Stand) are some of her must-sees, as well as Isaiah Hull, the phenomenal winner of June 2014’s One Mic Stand, and Yusra Warsama. Outside of Manchester, Keisha Thompson said she was reading Malika Booker’s Pepper Seed at the moment and could not recommend her enough, as well as loving the works of Warsan Shire and Tanya Shirley. If you want some great inspirational material definitely check out these artists, especially Booker’s latest release (which I am already delving into and loving!).

Going forward from Abecedarian, what can we expect from this talented artist in the future? “Abecedarian means learning your alphabet and it seemed fitting for the title of my first release because I was just trying it out,” explained Thompson. “But now I am ready to focus in on a theme and be more specific with something I can develop”. Performance-wise, she’s also bringing her live show I Wish I Had A Moustache to Manchester’s Contact Theatre this year and it is not something you want to miss out on! Whatever Thompson does in the future, it is going to be entertaining, fun and most of all, inspiring. I’m looking forward to seeing where her talent can, and will, take her.

 

Follow Keisha Thompson on Twitter and on Facebook

Give her bandcamp a follow and download Abecedarian, her EP (you decide the price!): https://bandcamp.com/shebekeke

Check out Young Identity for more information about One Mic Stand: http://www.youngidentity.org/

Watch a performance here

 

-A.Webb

Comma Press Writing Competition: Redefine The Spy Genre

Edward Snowden, CCTV cameras, the partner that checks your phone… what is modern-day spying? Comma Press seeks short stories redefining the spy genre

Espionage: The practice of spying or of using spies

The next Comma Press New Writers Anthology will present a new kind of challenge to emerging and previously unpublished writers. We want you to write a short story which centres on espionage. This is your chance to breathe new, contemporary life in to a genre which has is increasingly blighted by clichés and stereotypes. Comma Press have spearheaded a new wave of genre writing in the short story form; from updating the grand old tradition of the horror story with The Uncanny to putting the science back in to science fiction by partnering writers with scientists in Beta-LifeLitmus and Bio PunkNow, in partnership with Creative Industries Trafford and ACE, we think it’s time to tackle the spy story with fresh new writers.

Let’s start with what we DON’T want: We have a rough set of guidelines for submissions and general pitfalls here. But for this project in particular, we want writers to avoid the many and well worn clichés of the genre. The era of the Cold War thriller is long gone, of course, but it isn’t just a case of re-pinning the badge of enemy or ‘other’ onto the presumed ‘bogeymen’ of the day (as defined by the media – terrorists, extremists, etc). We want stories that are more intelligent than that, more politically savvy. We are of course living in the age of Google (owning all our data), WikiLeaks (exposing government wrong-doing) and PRISM (allowing one government to spy on another), not to mention bizarre politics-culture crossovers like the North Korea/Sony debacle… the watchers and the watched no long fall into neatly partitioned groups.

What we DO want: Tension, suspense, compelling mysteries, and a redefinition of what modern spying actually is! Espionage can, of course, take many forms and we hope for a broad swathe of spying-types; from the political to the domestic, corporate to state-sponsored, private interest-led to cellular fanaticism. But remember: always avoid the clichés and well-worn tropes; if it’s been done before, ditch it. We want to meet characters we wouldn’t normally meet in a spy story, to find ourselves in settings the genre has barely visited before, and to be compelled from the first word to the last. Comma is also perennially concerned with structure: for this project we want writers to play with the different shapes a spy story can take, and to find new ones. Plot is everything in the thriller genre, so even when nothing seems to be happening, in the background, everything has to be…

Deadline: 1 July 2015

For more info and how to apply

The Haworth Prize for Young Landscape/Cityscape Artists

New £4,000 prize for a northern English landscape or cityscape by a young artist from the North of England.

The NEAC seeks submissions of northern English landscape or cityscape by young artists living in the North of England.

The shortlisted works will be exhibited alongside the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition at Mall Galleries.

The Haworth Prize is sponsored by The Haworth Charitable Trust

Who can submit?

Artists aged 35 or under, who are resident in the North of England in the following areas: Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham, Tyne and Wear, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire

What to submit?

Paintings, drawings or prints that depict the landscape or the towns of the North of England.

DEADLINE: Friday 13 March 2015

For more info and how to submit