WRITERS, musicians, actors and storytellers plan to take over closure-threatened libraries in Newcastle – but only for an hour.
The date set for the occupation is February 9, National Libraries Day, with the promise being “an hour of fun” with serious intent from 10.30am.
Crime writers Val McDermid and Ann Cleeves will be joined by actors such as Charlie Hardwick and Libby Davison, plus musical acts such as the Cornshed Sisters.
The 10 libraries due to become temporary performance venues have been earmarked for closure as Newcastle City Council looks at ways to cut its budget by £100m over three years in line with Government policy.
The high-profile participants rallied to the cause after Newcastle-based writing and reading development agency New Writing North commissioned five writers to spend time in some of the libraries and write about their experiences.
“The aim is to show the council and Government how much more than just books libraries have to offer and how much we value them,” state New Writing North.
It adds: “The writers, and New Writing North, urge the council to re-think the cuts, which will disproportionately affect already disadvantaged communities.”
A petition with 5,275 signatures opposing the closure of the libraries was handed to the city council which is engaging in public consultation on its proposed cuts up until February 1.
Ann Cleeves and Val McDermid, whose novels inspired the hit TV shows Vera and Wire in the Blood respectively, will be at Elswick library with the Cornshed Sisters and artist Emma Holiday.
Playwright Fiona Evans will be at Fenham library with actors Charlie Hardwick, Chelsea Halfpenny, Laura Norton, Zoe Lambert and Karin Young.
At Dinnington, in an event led by Red Squirrel Press founder Sheila Wakefield, writer Danielle Ramsay and poets Pippa Little and Graeme Fletcher will perform, along with musical act Elastic Banned.
Writers Mari Hannah, Stephen Shieber and Ann Porro will be at Denton Burn library with musicians Pete Scott and Kyla Clay Fox.
Performance poet Ellen Phethean, storyteller Chris Bostock and musician Ken Pattison will be at Blakelaw library.
Poet and playwright Peter Mortimer and fellow writer Kitty Fitzgerald will be at Newbiggin Hall, while writer Michael Chaplin and actors Joe Caffrey and Phillippa Wilson will be at Jesmond.
Novelist Celia Bryce, poet Sheree Mack and actor Jessica Johnson will be at Walker library in an event led by ardent library user Lynne Hunter.
Moorside library will also join in the fun but its stars are yet to be announced.
All the participants are urging the public to attend their local library at the time to show how much the facilities are valued by the community.