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Towns of Culture

Bury, home to icons such as Victoria Wood, Danny Boyle and Elbow, has been chosen as the first Greater Manchester Town of Culture, a prestigious accolade that will see a series of cultural events and initiatives take place across the borough throughout 2020.

The award is based on the UK City of Culture concept, which was introduced in 2009.

The accolade will see the unleashing of Bury’s creativity, with local people invited to participate in cultural events from festivals and family days to concerts, exhibitions and local heritage.

An integral part of next year’s events will be “Happy”, a programme of arts inspired by the work of the late Victoria Wood.

A taste of what’s coming up

From January to July ‘Happy’ will encourage individuals and families to work with professionals and get involved in music, writing, drama and much more, all with a focus on happiness and culminating in a summer ‘Happy’ prom.

‘Happy’ is all about people being able to experience for themselves the kind of work Victoria made including comedy writing, stand-up, song writing, performance and musical virtuosity.

Above all, ‘Happy’ will aim to make people laugh.  Victoria’s legacy is a powerful one and the affection shown by her many fans, especially those women from the north, is still felt today.  This was demonstrated throughout 2019 at the Victoria Wood exhibition at Bury Art Museum and at her statue unveiling in the nearby Library Gardens. 

In Bury we are proud that this amazing lady, a much loved and missed comedy genius, is from our borough.  A wonderful talent who is sadly missed.

January 2020

‘Happy’ will get underway at the end of January with an outreach and talent development programme named ‘New Faces’,

‘New Faces’ will provide the chance to work with professionals to create work that focuses on comedy, performance and music, offering a platform to perform as well as opportunities to learn and be mentored by a range of artists.

Friday 15 to Sunday 17 May 2020

A weekend of events in celebration of Victoria’s birthday (19 May).

A programme of performances, question and answer sessions and panel discussions will appear across Bury in different spaces and places over the weekend in May, with a ‘Happy in conversation’ event examining Victoria’s approach to her work and her legacy.

July 2020

An outdoor ‘Happy’ proms event at Burrs Country Park which will be an amalgamation of all the work developed so far.  

A ‘social’ strand – Let’s Do It! – will provide opportunities and spaces across Bury for audiences of all ages to meet, socialise, share stories, learn to dance, sing a song, to play an instrument; to join in with tea dances, en-masse music jams, a ‘scratch’ choir and other social interactions that encourage conversation and learning from each other.

There will also be the opportunity to ‘learn something in a day’, eg write a silly song, play a ukulele, or write a comedy script.

Join in and get involved

‘Happy’ will inspire and encourage the people of Bury and beyond to try new things, to see new performances, to laugh, to find a new happiness and let the legacy of Victoria Wood bring them the joy that she brought to so many through her work.

Communities across the Borough of Bury will have opportunities to join in with ‘Happy’ and other local activities that have cultural links.   

To find out how you can contribute in 2020 and beyond, email townofculture@bury.gov.uk

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