Rossendale Cultural Arts Network Members Revealed

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The Rossendale Cultural Arts Network (CAN)  is a newly formed collective of like-minded groups and individuals who appreciate the wealth of visual and performing arts talent that exists within the Rossendale Valley. The main objective of Rossendale CAN is to identify, develop, showcase and promote all of the amazing arts that exist within the Valley.

The membership of the  Cultural Arts Network is what the network is all about, providing opportunities for communication, collaboration, mutual promotion and the potential to develop new initiatives. As new members come on board, a profile will be written and included on this blog as an initial introduction to their activities. The following are profiles of the current network members, along with a link to their websites.



Based in Waterfoot, Rossendale, The Horse and Bamboo, is recognized as a ‘National Treasure’. They create visual theatre that tours, and work locally within Lancashire, working with masks, puppets, shadows and many other visual forms. The Horse and Bamboo tell stories and take them to audiences young and old throughout Lancashire, the UK and further afield. ‘Different Moons’ is one of The Boo’s recent successes. It is a project in Rossendale, working with young people and their families of a South Asian background to rediscover stories of family migrations, and using poetry and other art forms to explore and engage with these histories. The project is still ongoing.

They also have a range of workshops that provide opportunities for visitors to get a ‘hands-on’ experience of puppet making and animation. The Boo has a wonderfully quirky, creative and buzzing family-friendly atmosphere with a comprehensive range of other activities and performances for you to enjoy. The Boo has undergone an extensive refurbishment that has result in a number of significant improvements including new seating, an expanded studio space, improved frontage and access to the building; better cafe facilities; better technical facilities and sound-proofing. For further information about the programme of events and activities at the Boo, check out their web site at



The Whitaker Museum is a well-known landmark in the Rossendale Valley. Originally Oak House, a private residence and estate was purchased by the Whitaker family in 1896, and developed into a park and recreation area for the people of Rossendale. It was established as a museum in 1902 and has an extensive collection of fine art, decorative art and furniture, ceramics, glassware, archaeology, geology, natural history, numismatics, costumes and textiles, local social history, arms and weapons. But despite the concerted efforts of the Friends of The Whitaker Museum and the RBC, the museum was simply not attracting the numbers for it to be viable.

In 2013, in an effort to keep the museum open for the people of Rossendale, The Whitaker group was formed. Over the last year, the museum has been transformed into a modern and vibrant environment, presenting the many exhibits in a valued and sympathetic way.

The group has introduced a number of new facilities and activities that may not be immediately associated with a typical museum, but make it unique and forward thinking in character. These include a café bistro, regular children’s workshops, acoustic music evenings, vinyl record nights, plays, dialect readings, outdoor concerts and markets, themed weekends including involvement in the Rossendale 60’s Festival and exhibitions of local artists work. The group’s efforts have been rewarded by winning the Rossendale Business Awards ‘Tourism Business’ Award 2014. For further information, go to



The New Millennium Theatre can be found on Burnley Road East, Waterfoot, and is home to the Rossendale Players who have been producing plays in the Rossendale Valley for almost 70 years. The need for a permanent home for the players instigated the launch of an appeal in 1990 to raise funds to buy a building that could become a permanent theatre. By May 1994 enough had been raised to buy the former Bethel Baptist Lecture Hall in Waterfoot. Intense fundraising continued while work proceeded to convert the building into an intimate theatre experience. A new chapter began with the opening of The New Millennium Theatre in September 2000. Since then, the Society’s success has continued with many acclaimed performances, including the award winning ” Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me” which returned the Players to Festival success, winning 3 major awards against national competition at Fleetwood in 2002. Many of their members have been nominated for and won various awards over the ten years of productions in their own theatre. The theatre is also a venue for music and comedy nights and has recently hosted the Bacup Royal Court Theatre Group for their performance of ‘Opening Night’, which is precisely the type of collaboration the network encourages. For further information on the theatre and future performances, go to



Dansworks Dance Academy is a Dance School with a friendly and caring environment where every individual is treated with respect. Whatever your aims and objectives, whatever you’re capable of achieving, they are there to help you to fulfil your potential.

They’re not just about dancing either, Dansworks offers so much more for everyone. So if you would like to learn to dance, sing, act, perhaps you want to boost your confidence or just become more physically active. Dansworks provides the environment to help you to achieve whatever you aspire to.

At Dansworks Dance Academy it is their vision to see a world where dance is part of everyone’s life, regardless of age, ability or disability. Their mission is to make engagement with dance important to all individuals and communities in Bacup, Rossendale and beyond. For further information, go to



The Bacup Royal Court Theatre is an icon of Rossendale and is the biggest venue in the Valley with a capacity of almost 500 seats. Of late, it has gone through some difficult times, and needed serious commitment from the community to ensure its future. In July of last year, the Bacup Royal Court Theatre Group was formed. The BRCTG, Chaired by Rob Hames, is adamant that this is a ‘clean break’ from the old regime, and has been working tirelessly to find solutions to the issues that face the theatre and keep theatre company together. There have been a number of fundraising events held on behalf of the group including a sponsored walk, and thanks to the Rossendale Players, the group used the Millennium theatre in Waterfoot for a performance of ‘Opening Night’, again raising much needed funds for the BRCTG. The group has recently announced that power company EON has agreed a way forward to manage the debt left by the previous management group, and has now re-opened. Rob said “the BRCTG has now put the theatre back on an even keel, it’s now up to the public to support us by buying tickets”. The BRCTG would welcome volunteers to support the Theatre in any way you can. To register your interest, email



The 2nd Rossendale Scout Band was formed in 1963. Originally formed as a drum and trumpet band the instrumentation was changed some seven years later and substantial progress has been made in conventional brass band terms. The later inclusion of girls enhanced the development and presently they make up almost a third of the membership. Ever-present in the success of the Scout Band is long serving Group Scout Leader Michael Warwick who has throughout overseen the development of the range of activities undertaken by the various sections of the Group.

The senior band performs regularly across the North of England and in recent times has performed with the Black Dyke, Fodens, Grimethorpe Colliery, Brighouse and Rastrick Bands and most recently with The International Staff Band of The Salvation Army. They have appeared at Windsor Castle for HM Queen Elizabeth and at many fine concert venues including The Bridgewater Hall, The Royal Northern College of Music, The O2 Arena, and Cologne Cathedral. For further information, go to



Stubbylee Community Greenhouses is a therapeutic eco-focused community garden centre where we nurture not only plants but people.  They aim to support  the local community and have a particular focus on rehabilitation for individuals who have physical or mental health issues and have long term unemployment  issues.

Respect for the individual and the environment is the main focus with an emphasis on teamwork and working towards a common goal.  They offer activities for a range of interests including  gardening, woodwork,  mentoring and  building. The link to CAN may not be immediately obvious, but the group is strongly developing artistic creative activities to further enhance their therapeutic support. They are a community social enterprise and work in partnership with other local agencies and community organisations. For further information, go to



Too many people are prevented from accessing organisations and areas of interest because they need that little extra care, attention or support when it matters, or they just don’t fit in because of perceived preferences. This exclusion can lead to isolation and hidden talents not being realised.

The Cotton Shed Theatre Company is a registered charity, taking its inspiration from the renowned London theatre group ‘Chicken shed’, and has as its overriding aim for both audience and theatre member to enjoy, be moved and inspired by a performance. They bring together the creative energy of people who would never meet together anywhere but at the Cotton Shed Theatre Company.

They all have something to offer and through the Cotton Shed Theatre Company, their inclusive values encourage everyone, regardless of age, ability, or background, to access theatre and become a valued member. Contributing to ideas, direction and themes, each individual is encouraged to build their confidence and talent under the direction of professional artistic leaders. Every person is involved with acting, music, song and dance, whether they are able bodied and full of confidence, less confident, or even a wheelchair user.

The Cotton Shed Theatre Company sessions take place at Haslindgen Primary School, BB4 4BJ. Further details can be found on their web site at



Wonderful Things is a project run at St Mary’s CE Primary School in Rawtenstall. In July 2013 the school was delighted to be awarded a grant of almost £10,000 by the Big Lottery, in order to run a pilot project.  The funding was used to provide an unusual selection of experiences for children aged 4 to 11 years throughout Rossendale at a very heavily subsidised price (and free in some cases).

The launch of Wonderful Things was in August 2013 with A Week of Wonderful Things – a week of summer activities with a different theme every day, ending with a celebration dinner to share the children’s week with families, friends and community. Take a look at our gallery page to see some of the great times had by Rossendale children and watch our video of the week’s activities.

Wonderful Things has provided many activity days since then and has helped in aspects of Rossendale life such as the Rossendale 60s Festival.  Its volunteer programme has involved high school children, including Duke of Edinburgh Award pupils, in the project – they provide support for the younger participants in Wonderful Things and have run their own activities too!

The Friends of St Mary’s School (Rawtenstall) charity now runs this popular project as a social enterprise and fundraises to keep the costs of Wonderful Things down as well as fund other community projects they are involved in.  They would welcome contact from anyone able to help in this goal.  For further information, go to



Veterans In Communities (VIC) is a charity based in Haslingden, that has been set up specifically to help, support and re-integrate ex-service personnel and their families back into the local community. Current members view the VIC charity in many different ways. As a stop-gap, a sanctuary, and probably most important of all, a place shared by fellow veterans who support each other through shared experiences, and where they can learn new skills.

The VIC gives back to the community in many ways through ambassadorial initiatives such as the VIC Singing Group, that performs at residential homes, village fairs and charity events, through their ‘Positive Art’ shop and workshops that are open to veterans and members of the community, and by working in the community, with a range of projects designed to utilise the skills and experiences gained through their service careers.For further information, go to



Tor View School has a commitment to creativity and has worked closely with local artists and creative practitioners as part of the Creative Partnerships initiative. The legacy of this work is creative teaching and learning. Staff and pupils are encouraged to find creative, exciting, imaginative, challenging and motivating ways to deliver and participate in the curriculum, including access to resources, specialist staff and talented artists and performers. We encourage all forms of expressive communication through the medium of the arts. Capturing skills in visual and performance arts are very important for the development of communication skills.

The Face Me Theatre Company consists of students aged 16-19 years old from Tor View School. They all have different disabilities that they want to share with the community. They have set up a theatre group called ‘Face Me’ to tell our stories to the wider community. for further information If you would like us to perform at your school or place of work, please email



The Rossendale Dance and Drama Centre was established 30 years ago, and have built up an excellent reputation for what they do and how they do it. They offer a range of subjects, covering all areas of Dance, Drama, Musical Theatre and Fitness taught by subject specialists.They also offer a range of optional extras such as Summer Schools, Activity Weeks, Workshops, Masterclasses. They have branches in Ramsbottom and Waterfoot.

The Rossendale Dance and Drama Centre hold annual musicals or pantomime for everyone, and have an in-house agency for pupils, children 6+years who wish to work in advertising, television, film and theatre.

The Rossendale Dance and Drama Centre are a registered examination centre for the delivery of GCSE and A Level exams, graded Vocational and Professional examinations / qualifications, delivering outstanding results. For further information, please check out their web site at

McCaw School Of Dance:


Founded in 1985, the McCaw School of Dance has over 30 years of experience in the education of dance and provides classes to children and adults throughout Rossendale. The school is located in Haslingden (Rossendale).The school was taken over 7 years ago by Charlotte Ormerod who is a fully qualified RAD Dance Teacher and has been working in Dance Schools for many years. Having previously being a student of the McCaw School of Dance, Charlotte is more than qualified to both teach at and run the school. The McCaw School of Dance is continually dedicated to providing the very highest standard of dance.

Classes are held at St. Peters Church, Haslingden and Manchester Road Methodist Church with fully qualified staff, the school is able to offer a professional and friendly experience to children of all ages and abilities. The service is intended to be rewarding and fun, helping children to grow in both ability and confidence. The School  has a great group of students, situated around Rossendale, but are open to accepting new students at any time.

House Of Fusion Dance & Expressive Arts:


Based in Haslingden, House of Fusion (formerly RM Fusion) was founded by Razia Mahmood in 2007. She has taught dance since the age of 18 and has danced herself since the age of 10. She holds a BA Hons Degree in Dance & MA in Choreography. During her years of teaching she has taught and performed dance in many different countries; Germany, Turkey, Tunisia, South Africa, Poland, Belgium, India and Holland.With a wide experience in different dance styles and techniques, Razia aims to teach a humble dance ethic to her students that allows them to learn to reach the best of their abilities in both dance and as a person and to believe that with hard work and a love for what you do, anything can be achieved.

House Of Fusion has now been running for over 9 years, and has had some great successes in that time. They welcome new dancers aged from 7 years onwards regularly who have a strong passion for dance.

Their mission is to inspire students to achieve their goals and dreams. They work hard to attain a high standard in various styles and are a company with drive and ambition. They perform at many different occasions and are versatile in style. The school creates an atmosphere that bring the best out of each student.

You can contact Razia at email

For further information, check out their web site at

Rossendale Ladies Choir:


The Rossendale Ladies Choir was formed in 1977, and currently has over 40 members. Membership is made up of ladies of all age groups and all walks of life. They meet every Wednesday evening and rehearse at St. Peter’s Church, St Peter’s Avenue, Haslingden, Rossendale, BB4 6NZ  from 7.30 to 9.30pm to share a love of music. New members are made very welcome and we warmly extend an invitation to any prospective members to come along to a rehearsal, sit in and listen or join in if you feel brave enough.

During the life of our successful choir there have been some remarkable choral achievements, including success at the international Eisteddfod in Llangollen, special selection from festival winning choirs in the “Festival of Festivals” in Warwick, fundraising concerts in the Albert Hall, London, Christmas concerts in Manchester Cathedral and many local churches.  In June 2010 the Rossendale Male Voice Choir, Rossendale Ladies Choir & Black Dyke Band performed at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester raising over £30,000 for The Christie Hospital.

For further information, please go to their web site at

Rossendale Memory Choir:


Founded in 2013, The Rossendale Memory Choir is a singing group for people living with dementia and their carers. They invite you to go along and enjoy the company of others while singing some old favourites plus some new songs. Singing is great therapy for everyone as it gives us a physical as well as a mental workout, but it has been shown to be particularly beneficial for those with memory problems because it is a whole brain activity, it helps with other skills such as orientation and is one of the last skills to be lost in dementia. The choir meets every Wednesday at Kay Street Baptist Church in Rawtenstall.

For further information, please go to their web site at

The Mather Gallery:


The Mather Gallery is situated on Bury Road Rawtenstall adjacent to the East Lancashire Railway station and has been open now for over 2 years. It is run by artist Elaine Cooper and partner Karl Mather and regularly exhibits the work of over 20 artist, mainly local and original works. The majority of the work on exhibition and for sale is original, comtemporary and reflects the emerging tastes of their clients. For further information, why not check out their web site at

Valley Academy:


Valley academy, based in Crawshawbooth, Rossendale, is an academy that covers all aspects of performing arts teaching and performance, Their mission is to educate, enrich, entertain and reach out to the people of Rossendale, especially young people, by providing the very best resources, teaching staff and experiences available to students of the Performing Arts on an extra curricular basis. They actively encourage the people of Rossendale, especially young people, to perform in and engage with live theatre in order for them to build confidence, develop life skills and fulfil their potential and prepare students for a career in the Performing Arts. The studios provide a safe, enjoyable and inspiring working environment where each student can express themselves freely through the medium of theatre. (Valley Academy has a strict Child Protection and Anti-Bullying Policy). They appeal to all cultures and sections of society, using theatre as a tool for social cohesion.

For further information, please check out their web site at

The Water Band:


The Water Band was founded in 1866, and has been serving the village of Water and the Rossendale Valley for 150 years. Their Bandroom is situated on Burnley Road East, next to Lumb Baptist Church.  Free tuition is offered to anyone who would like to learn to play and age is no barrier. The band funds itself through a series of concerts and other fundraising activities.

Each year they undertake many different type of events, including marches and church processions, indoor and outdoor concerts and at Christmas we play Christmas carols in the local supermarkets and around the streets of Water and Lumb. They have also raised money for local charities including The Parkinson’s Society, the Tickled Pink breast cancer awareness charity, and a charity for the blind and partially sighted. Their proudest achievement of recent years was being asked to play for the televised Olympic Torch relay as it came through Burnley in 2012.  The band is made up of a good cross section of age and ability with ages ranging from 7 through to 80. They are a friendly group of people who enjoy making music and welcome any new players who would like to join us.

For further information, please check out their web site at

Britannia Coconutters:


The Britannia Coconutters have been an integral part of Rossendale’s Heritage for over 100 years, and regularly perform throughout the year, often raising funds for Charity. The ‘Nut Dance’ is unusual and performed in a straight line. Each Dancer wears wooden discs or ‘nuts’ on his hands, knees and belt. During the Dance the discs, which are made of maple wood and struck together in time to the music. The name Coconuts was given to the discs, probably, since the dance came to Lancashire and it is said they could resemble the protection to knees and elbows when crawling along narrow seams in the mines. One of the highlights of the year is the Britannia Coconutters Boundary Dance, which goes from Britannia through Bacup and Stacksteads to the border with Waterfoot, which happens every Easter Saturday. The event attracts many followers, with the dance culminating at the Bacup Easter Fair.

The Coconutters host ‘ The Crown Affair’ at the Crown Inn in Bacup on the first Sunday in June, which is now established as an annual spectacle of Traditional dance and music. For further information on their programme for the year, go to

The Stacksteads Band:


The Stacksteads Band was formed in 1872, originally known as the Stacksteads Amateur Brass Band. A year later in August 1873 the Bacup Times reported that, “this young band is working hard to establish a name for itself in the musical world”. The band initially raised £50.00 to buy their instruments shortly after they disposed of these and bought new ones paying the total of £150.00 by instalments. In order for a band to be known as a PRIZE band it had to win the same quickstep (March) in consecutive years. Stacksteads band accomplished this when they won the Westhoughton Quickstep Contest three years in a row those years being 1907, 1908 and 1909. Following their win of 1909 they could then call themselves Stacksteads Prize Band. The band took part in competitions at Belle Vue and Crystal Palace. The first female to play in the band was Renee Amyes daughter of First Cornet player Kitchener Amyes. One band tradition is to accompany the Britannia Coconutters on Easter Saturday when they dance their way through the streets following a tradition that takes them from boundary to boundary of the Town.

The band recently celebrated its 140th birthday in 2012 and in previous years has seen competition success throughout all the sections resulting in promotion to the Championship Section in the mid 1980s. However changes in personnel over the years led to the band withdrawing from competition and becoming a concert band, gaining a reputation for putting on some of the best concerts in the North West over the last few years.

in 2014,  the band recorded their first North West Area win in history as they topped the 4th section with their performance of “Three Spanish Impressions” by Alan Fernie. This win qualified the band for the National Championships of Great Britain in Cheltenham and also saw the band be promoted to the 3rd section in 2015.

The present home of Stacksteads Band is the old Tunstead Co-op situated on the main road between Rawtenstall and Bacup in the Rossendale Valley. For further information, please go to their web site at


If you would like to be a member, please contact Baz at

Rossendale Cultural Arts Network Celebrating The Arts In Rossendale

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The Rossendale Cultural Arts Network (CAN)  is a newly formed collective of like-minded groups and individuals who appreciate the wealth of visual and performing arts talent that exists within the Rossendale Valley. The main objective of Rossendale CAN is to identify, develop, showcase and promote all of the amazing arts that exist within the Valley, and to encourage communication and collaboration between members.

Rossendale CAN is a constituted group, Chaired by Barry Hyde, Secretary Pete Sweetmore and Treasurer Romy Vear. The network currently has representatives from The Dansworks Academy, The Boo Theatre, The Whitaker Museum, The Bacup Royal Court Theatre, The Rossendale Players, The APNA Community Gallery and other members of the community, all committed to highlighting, promoting and developing the Valley’s talent.

Rossendale CAN welcomes all visual and performing arts groups within the Valley, and acknowledges that there are still groups out there that have yet to be identified, and are looking to these groups to broaden the network’s scope. These include music, singing, comedy, brass bands, dance and theatre groups, of which we have many excellent examples in the Valley.

As an initial showcase of the Valley’s talent, Rossendale CAN will be featuring profiles of a number of arts groups and promoting their activities through the month of June,  provide a great opportunity for those involved to stage performance, organise tours and run workshops to promote the activities of their group and use their event to showcase the expertise and talents existing within the group and raising its profile. Collaboration between groups is positively  encouraged, with a view to enhancing the scope of activities and performances throughout the network. Rossendale CAN believes that the more members the network, has the more effective the network will be. So if you are interested in joining the network, please email the Chair at

You have nothing to loose and everything to gain.