Poet Tony Walsh wins award for Manchester Arena vigil performance

By Ian Youngs
Arts & entertainment reporter

  • Published
Media caption,

Tony Walsh, who performs as Longfella, read his poem 'This is the Place'

Tony Walsh, the poet who captured the spirit of Manchester at a vigil the day after the 2017 attack on the city's arena, was among the winners at the inaugural Manchester Culture Awards.

Walsh won best performance for the rousing This Is The Place, which he read on 23 May 2017.

The bombing after an Ariana Grande concert left 22 people dead.

Walsh led a round of applause at Wednesday's ceremony for the victims and those who had helped survivors.

"I found myself quite emotional on the platform there," he told the BBC afterwards.

"While I'm truly honoured tonight, if I could take us all back as a city and as a community to just before what happened in May 2017, of course I would."

But Walsh, who also goes by the name Longfella, said he had been amazed by the response to his words over the past 18 months. "I couldn't have expected it," he said.

"People are having the full poem tattooed on their skin, it's been projected onto buildings and interpreted as mosaics and embroidery and digital design, cut with lasers, etched into brick... As an artist, you can only dream of connecting that widely and that deeply."

Image caption,
Dominic Bennett with his award for young creative of the year, and with his mum Ann

The Manchester Culture Awards were set up by Manchester City Council to celebrate the creative scene, and were handed out at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium.

Other winners included the Manchester International Festival - which won outstanding contribution and best event for last year's What Is The City But The People, which saw normal people walk down a catwalk in Piccadilly Gardens.

One of the most popular winners was 25-year-old Dominic Bennett, who has Down's syndrome and set up an inclusive music group and club night, and who was named young creative of the year.

Streetwise Opera, which runs opera workshops with homeless people, won the prize for promotion of health and wellbeing.

And the People's History Museum won best exhibition for Never Going Underground, which told the story of the campaign against Section 28, the 1988 law that said councils should not promote homosexuality in its schools or other areas of their work.

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