In the words of Tenacious D: ‘thats f***ing teamwork’

I considered beginning this post with a grandiose/pretentious quote, maybe something about overcoming obstacles and rising above the madness that life throws at us all. But I won’t, because that is not really what I want to write about.

Trying to do what I am doing has made me learn many things. Above all else I have finally accepted that, in my experience, I should always trust my gut instinct in every decision I ever make – when I look back upon my life, I realise that my gut instinct has always been right. Difficult times of late have made this very clear to me.

One of the other main things I have come to properly realise is the absolute crucial importance of operating as part of a team. Obviously this is something I already understand since everything in life is teamwork to some degree, and I have of course written the immortal: ‘I can work well on my own,as well as part of a team’ on many a job application. But in terms of setting up the Chorlton Art Market as my business, I was, until recently, under the impression that I could do it all on my own. Other than sleeping and sewing, doing things on your own is hard.

As I have alluded to, I took a bit of a knock in recent weeks with my dreams for the market. Against my better judgement, I put my trust in someone I shouldn’t of. And it made me sad. It also made me very cross. But it also led onto much greater things and reminded me how strongly I feel about my goals and plans.

The old cliche ‘everything happens for a reason’ is so true. This I have always known but sometimes it’s easy to forget. Without the rough times I’ve had with the Chorlton Art Market lately, I may not of taken up a great opportunity which lead to a truly awesome event on Sunday.¬†Along with some other folks, (the Uprising Bakehouse Co-operative and Miss Daisy’s Tea Den) I helped to create a Harvest Fayre in our local park – pictures of the wonderful day can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/chorltonartmarket/photos_stream and at: https://twitter.com/ChorltonMarkets/media. The success of the event was down to lots of hard work all round, but it was so worth it and it was so lovely seeing some of the CAM artists again, as well as some new folks. I have never enjoyed an event that I was involved in so much – I didn’t want the day to end. Massive respect to the Uprising team for masterminding such an ace day for our town and I’m so glad we could be a part of it.

So, in summary, I’m glad that things have happened the way they have. Every knock I take makes me more determined to reach my goals. As Babe Ruth said: ‘no one can beat you if you never give up’.

We are now busily and excitedly working on plans for future CAM events so watch this space!</

The story so far…

Back in the hayday of 2011 when my daughter was a newborn and life was better than ever, I took part in a fantastic opportunity run by our local Arts Festival team. For over a year, 50 local artists and crafts people took turns to rent out a previously unoccupied shop unit in our town’s shopping precinct. This meant that every week, a new person or group of people, transformed the shop into something totally different and had the opportunity to sell their work and build up interest in their brand. It really was something very special indeed for our town, and for all of us who sold our wares there.

Eventually, in December 2012, the shop unit was taken on by a more long term tenant so it seemed that the dream had died. But I was inspired by the Chorlton Arts Festival shop, and I vowed that I would make something happen in the precinct again.

By this time my daughter was 18 months old and I was more than eager to get more active in making my own business, Patchwork Papillon, work, as well as trying to get a shop in the precinct again for the benefit of myself and all the amazing creators that I knew. So, for 6 months I did nothing but sew and send emails (and look after my daughter of course!) and eventually in June 2013, I secured an agreement for a short term pop up shop in one of the large empty units. It was, quite simply, a dream come true.

This then lead onto a successful crowdfunding campaign, and the organising of two art markets within the precinct, as well as gaining the support from Manchester City Council Regeneration Team and the Chorlton Traders Association along the way. I felt that the Art Markets made a real difference to the precinct and hopefully even managed to change some of the negative views about the place, even just for a day.

Everything was looking good and full of exciting prospects for my ideas for the precinct, up until January of this year when the development was sold and future precinct plans were put on the sideline. But I’ve never given up because I don’t know how to give up on things that I believe in. Finally, after 9 months of emails, the story can begin again. Exciting times lay ahead, and not only for precinct plans, but for The Chorlton Art Market as well.

Although it has been very tough at times to keep things going, my vision is still one I believe very passionatly in. Sometimes I feel frustrated and it seems that Chorlton isn’t doing itself justice at all and is losing some of the aspects which made it special. But its not just Chorlton – the problem is everywhere. Collectively, people are allowing our country’s town centres to become something which will soon be unrecognisable and it just seems crazy that we are letting this happen. It seems wildly crazy that it is such a massive struggle for business owners to pay their business rates. And its not just a few independent businesses who struggle, it seems to me to be the majority. Something is very wrong there. It is bizarre that more people aren’t more concerned about these issues, or can’t see how rapidly things are changing for the worse. Even if you don’t have a shop (or, like me, dream of having one), a degenerated town centre does nothing for house prices, quality of life or social connectivity so it affects us all.

Something has to change soon. And not just daft half-baked government schemes. Something big. Hopefully, one day, the people at the top who make the big decisions will gain vision and learn to see beyond the profit monster. Maybe they will recognise that sometimes things need to be done differently in order to achieve great things, even on a small scale.