Directory for northern culture

Launches this week listing arts, culture and science, writes Ciara Leeming

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A directory that celebrates “great stuff” happening in the north will launch this week.

The Hannah Directory – now on its fourth edition – lists interesting figures and projects across arts, culture and science and bills itself as “an alternative to the Northern Powerhouse”.

Each year the directory draws together 50 people and organisations from fields as diverse as the arts, business and scientific innovation. They come from all corners of northern England, with contributions representing an area ranging from Barrow to Sheffield, and from Newcastle to Liverpool.

This year’s listings include Dewsbury’s New Picture House community cinema – now in its fourth year after being built by a group of friends as a temporary project in 2012.

Open from April to December and typically screening two films a month, organisers curate a programme of the best recent blockbusters, art house, documentaries, cult classics and much more.

Octopus Collective, based on Cumbria’s Furness Peninsula, is also featured. A sound art and new music organisation based in a public park, Octopus provides an incubator for new work from the most innovative of contemporary composers and sound artists.

Since forming in 2009 the group has produced over 70 events, including four festivals to showcase work by more than 200 artists.

Manchester’s Portico Library is also included. Founded in 1806 and open to the public six days a week, its unique collection reflects the city’s boomtown society and spans 400 years. It is also home to the prestigious biennial Portico Prize for literature.

Among the scientific inclusions is York’s Biorenewables Development Centre, which uses biology and chemistry research to make greener processes and products using plants and microbes.

Spokeswoman Juliet Burns said: “This can be investigating new types of oilseed rape for industrial use, turning food production by-products into pharmaceuticals, or helping to develop batteries and catalysts using biomass.Yorkshire is a fantastic hub for this work, with many innovative businesses, a huge knowledge base and lots of bright ideas.”

Grass roots

The Hannah Directory will be distributed by hand through its network of participants and supporters. It is this voluntary contribution by people who live and work in places across the north of England that contrasts with the Northern Powerhouse, according to organiser Andrew Wilson.

He said: “There is nothing wrong with the Northern Powerhouse. But we all know it’s an idea invented by politicians and civil servants in London who only ever come here on day trips. Hannah Directory has been created over the last four years by people who care about places in the north, because this is where we make our lives. It is for all of us living here to define what our future is going to be, not Whitehall civil servants and Westminster think tanks, and by co-operating for our common good we can make sure even more great stuff happens.”

The directory is named after and inspired by Hannah Mitchell (1872–1956), a suffragette and rebel who tried to create “beauty in civic life” in her work on public libraries, parks and gardens.

The green and purple colour scheme of this year’s directory was chosen by Victoria Simpson and Charlotte Hitchen of Made by Memo to reflect the original suffragette campaign colours.

The directory is a not-for-profit initiative. Contributors are selected on merit and there is no fee for inclusion. The publication does not apply for or receive any public funding.

For more information on the Hannah Directory – which also features Big Issue North – see

Photo: New Picturehouse, Dewsbury

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