As a committed and energetic supporter of the Arts, Cllr Janet Emsley is a constant presence on the local arts scene. Her support is often active: at any given event you might find Janet warmly welcoming audiences, stewarding, handing out leaflets or rallying the ‘troops’ at rainy outdoor festivals.
Rochdale Borough has some of the most economically deprived communities, is within the 1% lowest culturally engaged regions in the UK, and external investment into the arts has been stubbornly low. However, behind the scenes Cllr Emsley works tirelessly to change things, championing the arts with elected members and building relationships with strategic partners. Rochdale Borough Council didn’t have a member for culture until Cllr Emsley insisted that arts and culture were both vital and valuable.
This year, Cllr Emsley helped Touchstones Art Gallery to broker a partnership with Rochdale Veterans and students at Oulder High Community School to work on an inter-generational creative engagement project, focusing on parallels between the life during World War II and the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be linked to one of the exhibitions they hope to be able to reopen in spring next year.
Cllr Emsley is the force behind ‘Rochdale Borough Culture Network’ bringing together local artists and arts organisations. In her role as Chair, she focuses partners on developing ways of working together to reach more residents across the Borough. And, in response to Covid-19, Cllr Emsley backed an ambitions scheme which delivered 7,000 ‘Get Creative’ packs full of activities and materials to children during lockdown
In 2016 Cllr Emsley was asked to lead Rochdale’s bid to display Dippy (the Natural History Museums’ iconic 150-year-old Diplodocus cast) in the council’s customer service centre. Rochdale was successfully selected and, in early 2020, Dippy on Tour opened as the only North West stop on his nationwide tour to major cities such as Cardiff, Belfast, Newcastle and Glasgow. 120,000 people visited Rochdale – including 8,334 school children and teachers – in the first five weeks; enjoying the town centre shops, cafes, restaurants and museums. Cllr Emsley was vital to planning meetings, budget discussions, sponsorship negotiations, media coverage and even volunteering to meet and greet visitors.
Whilst Cllr Emsley is synonymous with arts and culture in Rochdale, her energies also reach further afield. She is a prolific advocate and supporter of the arts across Greater Manchester, serving as vice Chair of the GMCA Culture and Social Impact Committee which oversees £3.5m of culture investment and a Trustee of both the Halle Orchestra and Contact Theatre, and has now also been invited to join the North West Area Council.
Janet sounds like an incredibly passionate and dedicated champion of the arts in Rochdale. Her vital role in ensuring the Dippy Tour came to Rochdale shows the huge impact her work has on her community. I was really impressed by the myriad of ways Janet made valuable contributions and her willingness to adapt to whatever task needed doing. It’s great to see that such an economically-deprived area has someone like Janet who fights for the arts so doggedly. I’m sure she is instrumental in opening up creativity, increasing positive mental health, and sparking inspiration in communities who have not had much access to the arts before."
What a fabulous contribution to both the arts and the local community! It’s both reassuring and inspiring that there are people like Janet out there, and that she’s making sure that her voice and influence as a Councillor is used to the max to make the world a better place. Really good leadership is always that bit better with a strong dose of raw enthusiasm, and Janet clearly has that in spades."
Firstly, it was so wonderful to read of Janet’s efforts AFTER being blown away by the Dippy tour project. It’s no surprise that someone of this calibre was part of the team that delivered Dippy to Rochdale. She seems to be at the heart of EVERYTHING cultural or artistic and that level of commitment is inspiring. When art and culture are personified by a passionate and ebullient person things happen even in the most deprived places. They become beacons of light that illuminate everything which is even more impressive with limited resources."
So impressed by Janet’s efforts and obvious talents at motivating her staff , creating collaborations and developing connections that ensure projects get off the ground. She sounds like an incredible asset to have in any community and an ambassador for creativity who’s prepared to battle against the odds."
Janet is part of the scene, participating in all aspects. She seems to have an un wavering conviction in what she believes is the right way to go and just goes ahead and makes it work."
It is great to see such passionate advocacy and support from a Councillor on the arts and culture in Rochdale, and someone who puts in such genuine time, support and passion for their local arts and cultural institutions."
The scale of the job Janet Emsley has committed to could hardly be overestimated, but she's clearly smashing it with energy, devotion and commitment. One person can really make a difference, and Janet's nomination is a sign of the regard she's held in by her colleagues and peers."
Wow - what an amazing force for culture Cllr Emsley is. She’s inspirational and helps to support so many people on so many levels. Lucky Rochdale!"
Councillor Janet Emsley is a hands-on advocate of the arts in her local area. From face-to-face intervention to online promotion, the arts are always central to her objectives. Here’s hoping 2021 brings even further success for her endeavours, further promoting her excellent work within Rochdale Borough Council’s local communities."