Creative writing hits the airwaves in east Leeds as Chapel FM hosts delayed festival

Creative writing, the art of photography and eye disease are some of the more unlikely topics for a series of radio broadcasts being aired in east Leeds later this month.

By Emma Ryan
Thursday, 18th March 2021, 6:00 am

The Chapel FM Arts Centre is bringing a three-day, 30 plus event radio and digital festival, called Writing on Air, to the airwaves over the weekend of March 26 to 28.

Writers and other artists explore the theme of Vision in events which include a radio drama peering into a dystopian future, stories from writers in Leeds’ German sister city Dortmund, programmes about award- winning photographers Carolyn Mendelsohn and Peter Mitchell, glimpses into the history of eye diseases, vision-inspired music performances, four free writing workshops, open-mics and more.

Festival organiser and Chapel FM Director of Words Peter Spafford says, “Topics being explored in this year’s Writing on Air festival range from mystical visions to the history of optical science. There’s so much fantastic stuff. All the shows are created by writers and readers in Leeds and Yorkshire or others with a direct connection to our city.”

Young people in the Chapel FM studios.

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Mr Spafford said: "It was tough to have to call off Writing On Air last year, but we always knew it was only a postponement. We already had over 30 programmes in the can, so we’re

beaming them all to the world on the weekend of March 26 to 28. There are some great add-ons too in the form of four writing workshops led by exciting new writers from the renowned

Writing Squad, plus two open mics."

Tony Macaluso, co-director, Chapel FM.

Chapel FM’s community radio station also reimagined its way of connecting communities during the pandemic, launching a number of new radio projects such as the youth-led Red Kite and bringing literary radio shows like the long-running Love the Words to wider audiences in podcast form.

The Seacroft-based arts centre also underwent an expansion and renovation, adding a community café fitted out with space for a small bookstore and take-a-book-leave-a-book library designed to showcase the work of local writers.

Tony Macaluso, Chapel FM co-director, added: "For anyone in Leeds or the wider world looking for reasons to feel a little more hopeful about how artists and especially writers can help us all see the way forward after this turbulent year, the Writing on Air Festival offers an amazing weekend-long voyage. Each individual programme will be exciting and full of fresh ideas, but hearing how all of these different writers and artists’ work fits together into a bigger whole that helps us think about the idea of vision is new ways – that will be an especially insightful experience."

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Young people in east Leeds have been working on the Red Kite radio series.