We're just putting the finishing touches to the Macclesfield Barnaby Festival brochure, building on the work that we reported a few weeks back.
The festival is about injecting excitement and creativity into a town that is traditionally seen as being a bit on the grim, northern side. In reality, it has a rich creative history, from the silk industry to Joy Division, David Shrigley and the novels of Alan Garner. And the man who invented the deck chair.
It's also a happy place. It came fifth in a study of Britain's happiest places to live, so it's official. And it shouldn't be surprising in a town surrounded by the wonders of the Peak District, where you can see the hills from the high street.
This is the good story we want to bring out.
And this is the bad story:
Macclesfield has a habit of making the news in a bad way. In 2004, The Times rated it the least cultured town in Britain, which is something the festival is setting out to address.
But then, last week, came a full-on assault from the Daily Mail.
They'd picked up on a competition run by the Macclesfield Civic Society, designed to recognise the most improved buildings in Macclesfield. The idea behind the competition is no bad thing, rewarding small improvements on a mundane level, rather than buildings that were grand and beautiful in the first place.
Nevertheless, it's pretty embarrassing when your local civic architecture awards end up nominating stuff like this:
To be fair, all of the above are nominations by the public that have yet to be awarded. But they have been press released and it's unfortunate, to say the least.
We have two main things to say about this:
1. To the Macclesfield Civic Society
Sorry, but you're not helping. By all means, encourage improvements at a low level, but don't press release it as some great competition, because this is exactly the kind of coverage it's obviously going to attract. Either use a filtering process before going public, or work a lot harder to explain what you're doing. The Daily Mail are idiots, but don't give them the ammunition.
2. To the Daily Mail
You're idiots. Whining, inexplicably self-satisfied idiots who have a far more malign influence on the British cultural landscape than any fried chicken joint. We don't want your readers round here anyway. And here's a song you might enjoy.
The Barnaby Festival takes place on 18-20 June 2010 and will hopefully be the first of many.