It's a full year since the Salford Star interviewed the new owners of the Black Lion pub on Chapel Street – and they promised to start their own cinema upstairs, put on plays and be the `media city' creative hub that Salford Quays just hadn't managed (see here for the article).
One year on and it's all actually come true...Almost one hundred art groups have used the venue, there is a state of the art cinema upstairs and it has become a creative hub for all sorts of happenings, from off-the-wall documentary screenings, to open mic nights and blasting out the Sex Pistols' God Save The Queen (along with the real national anthem) into the street on Jubilee Day.
When Mark Ashmore, of Future Artists who took over the pub, tries to think of the highlights they pour out almost stream of consciousness style…
"We've have had some of the drummers who were at the Olympics; they set up six drum kits here and had two days drumming" he motors "…The Co-op film to celebrate opening of Rochdale Museum that's going to shown on Film 4 rehearsed here…we had Shane Meadows – cinema royalty - come to watch the England match during the Euros…And the John Cooper Clarke documentary was filmed here, we're showing it next week…there's so many…
"But for me as a film maker" he adds "it's having our own cinema. In a pub. In Salford. And getting capacity crowds for obscure documentaries. It shows that there really is an audience in Salford for intelligent, thought provoking films with a get up and do attitude to them. We've seen that with Bombay Beach screening, The Undefeated screenings, and now we're able to diversify by showing Hitchcock's Vertigo and things like that and still getting strong audiences."
Even the low of the recent robbery which wiped out all the liquor in the pub (see here) is seen as a highlight… "The positives that came out of that was how the community rallied round us" Mark recalls "We had donations sent from all over the world to help us, and Cathy Crabb put on her play. It was a real massive positive that came out of being robbed."
The Black Lion is celebrating it all with a week long Festival, Not Part of the Bullingdon Club, almost trying to cram in all the highlights over seven days…
"It's got a bit of an anti-establishment feel to it" Mark explains "It's kind of saying `We've never had any Arts Council funding, but we've hopefully proved to people out there struggling for their art that after a year in existence we're still here'. We're celebrating the fact with all people who have got a kind of similar ethos to us - that you can do it, and that's what the Festival is about."
Monday 1st October 7:30pm – Invisible Circus No Dress Rehearsal
The documentary produced and distributed by Future Artists, about an arts collective that takes over abandoned buildings and brings them back to life with performances and more (£4advance/£6 on the door)
Tuesday 2nd October 7:30pm – Slaughterhouse
Fast Show style quick fire live comedy sketches (£5.50)
Wednesday 3rd October 8pm – Evidently John Cooper Clarke
A welcome screening of the top documentary of the Salford punk bard, filmed at The Black Lion last year (£4advance/£6 on the door)
Thursday 4th October/Friday 5th 7:30pm + Saturday 6th 6pm - Cupcakes and Carousels
An acclaimed drama about running a relationship on a lie, and nominated for NW Playwright's Best New Play Award (£7)
Friday 5th October 6:30pm - Gallery Launch
This month's art features the freaky creative talents of Tasha Whittle and Charlotte Smith (free)
Sunday 7th October – One Play One Day
See the results of three directors, three writers and 16 actors getting together to create three plays in under 24 hours and performing it to an audience (£6)
It's going to be a mad week to see out the first year at The Black Lion – and in the pipeline for the winter are cheap meals for the elderly…
"We have become a kind of community pub with lots of regulars who we know by name and what they drink, and through the winter we're going to make sure that oaps who come in with a bus pass can get a meal for £4" says Mark "We've also got Sunday dinner for £5.95, and we've always got three real ales on.
"It's a cosy little pub in a corner of Salford, away from the all the hustle and bustle and stag parties on Deansgate" he adds "And we'll be here for as long as we can – probably until the property developers kick us out in ten years time!"
Not Part of the Bullingdon Club
Monday 1st October – Sunday 7th October
Black Lion pub, Chapel Street, Salford