After so much excitement about the Portas Pilot video we posted last week, I asked our friend Cormac Lawler to tell us about the making of it, and to give credit to everyone that made it happen. Here is what he had to say...
We love Levenshulme, but don't you ask yourself when you walk down Stockport Road that Levenshulme looks a bit out of love? What's with all the empty premises with shutters down? Of the businesses that are open, the betting shops and take-aways are all fine, but don't you feel that there's more to Levenshulme than this? We do, anyway.
Granted, Levenshulme does have plenty to shout about. There are lots of hidden gems in the area, or places (and people) that could do with more exposure. But this is the point: that Levenshulme needs to make more of what it has, and do more to encourage more independent businesses and initiatives to open and to flourish, and to make Levenshulme the thriving, bustling, happy community we want it to be.
This is why Levenshulme is the focus of a bid to Mary Portas's pilot fund to help invigorate and reshape high streets across England. If successful, Levenshulme would receive an injection of roughly £100,000 to try to address some of the issues just mentioned. Levenshulme is the only bid from the Manchester City Council region (there are others from areas in Greater Manchester) - and there have been hundreds of submissions nationwide, so competition is intense. Indeed, such was the response to the fund that a second round of applications has been announced.
Each bid needed to have an accompanying short video. So, with this in mind, a group of Levy locals - residents and business owners - got together to decide how best to translate the bid document into a short video that would put some images, faces and places to the words. It was a rushed process - all done in the space of a few days - but it was great fun, and was a tangible expression of the community spirit that exists in Levenshulme. We put out a request for help on Twitter, and in the space of a few hours, we had many offers of help from Levy residents - without which the video couldn't have been made. Local artist Laurie Sage was instrumental in getting ideas onto paper (including making the cards you see people holding in the video!); Chris Wright devoted a whole day off to help with filming; and mums Audrey Meade and Ffi Kippen brought together an energetic group of mums and kids for some community brainstorming and the final 'Love Levy' shot in Cringle park. The music soundtrack, which really brings the video and message together, was generously donated by local musician Lou Armer (she of Levy Uke-up fame) - and she's also made the song available for download here. Also, Terry from POD was key in setting the tone and content of the video (with input from other businesses in Levenshulme), and coffee and food from POD helped keep creative juices flowing.
There has been a lot of positivity around the video - and a great response to it. At the time of writing, there have been over 3,200 views on Youtube - and some lovely comments made about it, on Youtube, Twitter and Facebook. A touching example is from representatives of the Royal Wootton Bassett town teams, who said: "Some of the videos make their towns look incredibly depressing and way beyond help. You have managed to make your town look both appealing and deserving at the same time. Great job! Good luck!" Even Mary Portas herself was very positive about the video - saying: "This is lovely. Just lovely. I defy anyone not to want to make all this reality. Well done Levenshulme!" (Woop!)
So, the question arises... what next? Even if the bid is unsuccessful (though we remain optimistic), there is a palpable energy to take action to make Levenshulme great - indeed, to make this a reality. If you have ideas for what can be done, please contribute to the comments below, or link to wherever related discussions are taking place. If you want more information about the bid, you can contact Elaine Mills, Levenshulme Ward Coordinator at Manchester City Council (firstname.lastname@example.org). There will be upcoming community meetings to discuss what should and can be done, as well as a public screening of the video - so watch this space for further details on how to get involved!
Post Written by Cormac Lawler
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