Today's Diggers Festival in Wigan :-)

tony at tony at
Sat Sep 13 17:21:55 BST 2014

Diggers Festival returns Published: 12 September 2014 Wigan Diggers Festival at The Wiend THE Wigan Diggers Festival will once again turn the town centre into a crucible of radical ideas to celebrate the life of a thinker from the borough. The event, which marks the achievements of writer and philosopher Gerrard Winstanley who inspired the 17th century Diggers movement, will see alternative thinking celebrated by music, arts and talks tomorrow. The festival is now in its fourth year and attracted more than 2,000 people to last year’s event, with organisers putting together a packed line-up once again. Winstanley, who is best known for his comment that: “The Earth was made a common treasury for all”, will be discussed by left-wing Labour MP John McDonnell, who has been invited to open the event, and documentary maker and author David Malone. The talks will look at how the Diggers’ ideas inspired 18th-century revolutions in France and America and continue to influence working-class movements today. Actor John Graham Davies will reenact the digging of common land, which gave the Diggers movement its name and has led some historians to dub them the world’s first socialists, in the role of Gerrard Winstanley. Other activities on The Wiend include two stages of music and poetry with more than 20 acts performing, a puppet theatre, arts projects for children and a procession through the town centre. A host of organisations will be running stalls outside the Wigan Life Centre, with festival-goers able to find out more about everything from the situations in Palestine and Cuba to credit unions, environmental campaigns and radical political parties and trade unions as well as browse a selection of independent crafts, clothing and books. The popular Occupie Wigan beer tent will also return with the town’s breweries creating specially-commissioned ales for the festival. There will also be a number of fringe events taking place at The Boulevard and Tudor House Hotel from 10pm after the official programme has finished to for those wishing to continue the discussions and celebrations. The Wigan Diggers Festival takes place on The Wiend tomorrow from 11am until 9.30pm. The event is free. To view the full programme or find out more, visit or or follow the event on Twitter @WiganDigger MAXINE PEAKE WINS WIGAN DIGGERS SPADE – AND SAYS IT MEANS MORE THAN AN OSCAR Star date: 7th September 2014 MAXINE WINS WIGAN'S OSCAR' FOR BEING `A JEWEL OF THE BRITISH LEFT' Salford based Maxine Peake has received this year's Gerrard Winstanley Spade Award from the Wigan Diggers Festival for her "outstanding contribution to socialism". Maxine responded that "This award means more to me than any Oscar or BAFTA". The Wigan Diggers Festival - which happens next Saturday – is a top free open air event featuring loads of stalls, children's entertainment, a beer tent and over a dozen musicians. It commemorates Wigan-born legend, Gerrard Winstanley, who led the 17th Century `Diggers' movement, described by Tony Benn as the "the first true socialists". The much coveted Spade is Wigan's `own version of an Oscar' Full details here... Wigan Diggers Twitter Home... Maxine Peake Receives Gerrard Winstanley Spade Salford based Maxine Peake, who is currently playing the lead role in Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Royal Exchange Theatre, has been presented with this year's Gerrard Winstanley Spade Award, by the Wigan Diggers' Festival committee. The accolade, won by the late Tony Benn last year, is for Maxine's "outstanding contribution to the cause of making the Earth a common treasury for all" in the spirit of Winstanley and the Diggers' movement... It's the Wigan Diggers' "own version of an Oscar" and Maxine responded that "This award means more to me than any Oscar or BAFTA". Speaking on behalf of the Festival, Stephen Hall said: "Maxine Peake is someone who has remained true to her socialist principles. Despite her growing fame as an actress she has never lost touch with her working class roots. Instead, she has used her notoriety and work as an actor to speak out against the Government's crippling austerity measures, and to support protests against them. "She has also helped in recent years, to revive interest in the annual Peterloo Massacre commemoration event in Manchester, is a Trustee of the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, and supports numerous other progressive causes" he explained "She even worked as a volunteer and served behind the bar at our second Diggers' festival. "In our view she's an unsung hero, and a jewel of the British Left, and someone we should all want to treasure as a big asset to the movement for social equality and social justice in this country" he added "It's on this basis, and her absolutely fantastic and much acclaimed reciting of Percy Shelley's poem The Masque of Anarchy (written shortly after the Peterloo Massacre) at last year's Manchester International Festival, that we decided to present her with our own version of an 'Oscar' in the shape of our annual Gerrard Winstanley Spade Award, the first ever one of which we presented to veteran Labour MP Tony Benn last year..." The Wigan Diggers Festival happens next Saturday, 13th September, and Merry Hell and Shamus O'Blivion and The Megadeath Morris Men are just some of the acts with attitude that are appearing this year. The free open air event features comedy, poetry, loads of stalls, children's entertainment, a beer tent and a live line up featuring over a dozen musicians, ranging from Radio 2 Folk Award winners, the Lucy Ward Band, to indie folk outfit Second Hand Wings to upcoming Bolton guitar band The Jade Assembly. The Festival, which grows bigger every year, commemorates Wigan-born Gerrard Winstanley, who led the 17th Century `Diggers' movement, described by Tony Benn as the "the first true socialists". The Diggers had ultra radical ideas at the time, for equality of men and women, the right to vote, for the abolition of private property and for common ownership of the land… …They didn't just talk about it, the Diggers took direct action, taking over common land to farm so that everyone had enough to eat. Unfortunately, as Digger communities spread, soldiers were dispatched to destroy their homes and crops, and drive them off the land they were occupying. The Diggers fight is well worth remembering – and re-enacting, as Gerrard Winstanley is set to be re-born by actor John Graham Davies at what promises to be a fun packed, thought sprouting Festival. The Wigan Diggers' Festival takes place on Saturday 13th September 11am-9:30pm at The Wiend. For a location map, full line up and loads more details see Also see the Facebook site – click here
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