They’ve only gone and done it again!
Louis Beckett and his volunteer team at The Miners Arts and Music Centre in Moston has not only won the Community Project of the Year Award at Manchester’s Be Proud Awards but also scooped the Pride of Manchester Award 2017 too, presented to the winner of winners.
“On the night it didn’t really hit me,” Louis tells me. “But a few days later I’m thinking, this is big.”
“It is big,” I say, “and congratulations.”
Earlier this year I wrote about the amazing work Louis and his team have done bringing this old miners’ washrooms back into life for the community. In an area where facilities are sparse, The Miners has provided a venue for community groups to flourish.
“We’ve done it from nothing, haven’t we?” reflects Louis. “We’re bringing people together, I can see that now.”
“It’s not as if you’re motivated by profit, are you?” I suggest. “You’re motivated by other things.”
Those other things, for Louis, include his belief in social justice. Only last week I attended a sell-out fundraising event featuring Ken Loach, the acclaimed film director of social documentary films like the recent I, Daniel Blake that was screened in the Centre’s own cinema on the night. All the profits from that event went to the critical work of the Salford Unemployed & Community Resource Centre.
“I’m keen to bring people together,” says Louis. “Rather than being sat at home watching the telly, I’d like people to come here, have a cheap beer or brew and have a chat with someone. I think we do that well.”
When The Miners first opened they hosted Barbara Shaw’s Creative Community, and still do. “And we’ve got a dance group that started small and now has 30-odd kids coming on two nights a week.”
The events they’ve hosted range from cooking sessions to Zumba classes. They’ve been home to Contact Theatre’s cultural entrepreneur programme and followed that with a sewing academy and fashion show. There’s a kids’ drama group, a new fine arts group, all on top of a popular series of gigs and social events.
“You must be feeling pretty good about this,” I suggest.
“I am now,” says Louis.
This isn’t the first time the great work of The Miners as been recognised. Last year Louis lifted the Forever Manchester gong for Most Inspirational Project. No doubt the two new trophies will join this one alongside the homemade meat pies in the café’s display cabinet.
Well done Louis and all at The Miners.
Check out The Miners Facebook page for events and updates.