Manchester Histories DigiFest 2020 – 3 new commissions


We are excited to announce that we are partnering with Manchester Histories Digifest 2020 on three new commissions by talented North West-based artists: Lucy Hale, James Holt and Ollie Hyland.

A band onstage wearing christmas hats and the lead singer has his hand in the air

Hosted by artist Jackie Hagan, DigiFest will take place online on 4th & 5th September with an amazing array of performances being broadcast live from Greater Manchester. See the full programme.

Tune in to see our 3 new commissions:

Fri 4th September 2020

  • 7.10pm – 7.30pm – Lucy Hale

Sat 5th September 2020

  • 12.25pm – 12.35pm – James Holt
  • 5.25pm – 5.35pm – Ollie Hyland

Book a viewing slot to let the organisers know you’re coming

Or just watch live via the Manchester Histories website.

About DigiFest 2020

On Friday 4 September and Saturday 5 September 2020, the first ever online Manchester Histories DigiFest 2020 will broadcast live from Greater Manchester across the globe.

The focus for the sixth edition of the festival is the 50th anniversary of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act (1970), a landmark piece of legislation that was pioneered by Lord Alf Morris (1928 – 2012).

Who is Lord Alf Morris?

Lord Alf Morris was Britain’s first minister for disabled people. Often described as the Magna Carta for disabled people, this was the first disability rights legislation anywhere in the world and laid the foundations for the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Equality Act 2010.

Alf Morris was born and bred in Manchester and served as an MP for Wythenshawe. Throughout his lifetime, he campaigned tirelessly for the rights of Disabled people.

To celebrate and mark this, Manchester Histories is producing an outward looking programme of activity that is led and inspired by Disabled people.

Jackie Hagan comments,

“As an amputee with a disease no one’s heard of I love this project – society doesn’t want to talk about being sick or disabled so this is a place where you can be honest about our lives and champion the often unseen effort and achievement of disabled and sick people.

“I know at the minute when I say ‘politician’ most people think dodgy snakes but Alf Morris was brilliant, he was working class and grew up in Ancoats, and he was basically the first politician to say that disabled people should have any rights.”

About the commissions

The three talented Disabled musicians will all respond to the themes of the festival: Celebrate – Learn – Challenge and at least one will honour Alf Morris.

Lucy Hale is producing three short movements (or ‘miniatures’) for a solo cello.

James Holt has created two new songs for the occasion, one upbeat and celebratory, one with a more contemplative feel, both with his trademark vocals.

Ollie Hyland is creating a new funk pop piece, with lyrics celebrating Disabled pioneers, including Alf Morris.

About the Artists


Lucy is a young white disabled woman with dark hair. Her

Lucy Hale is a Manchester-based composer with an incredible series of musical achievements under her belt. She is currently Rosie Johnson Royal Philharmonic Society/Wigmore Hall Apprentice Composer, and Young Composer-in-Residence with Orchestras for All. Lucy was the inaugural (2018/19) Young Composer-in-Association with BSO Resound, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s groundbreaking disabled-led ensemble.

She has received commissions from Drake Music in partnership with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestras for All, the National Open Youth Orchestra, Lasham Music Festival, Feelgood Theatre Productions and the Royal Northern College of Music. She is also an Associate Musician with Drake Music, and is passionate about widening access to music making for all.

Follow Lucy on social media:


A black and white photo of James wearing stylish sixties clothing. He has a mop top hair cut and looks at us quizzically.

Manchester-born solo artist and multi-instrumentalist James Holt has long been championed by music industry giants like Brian Eno, and the listening public alike. He has become almost as well-known for his genre-bending cover videos (which features multiple James’ performing on different instruments) as his original music.

His latest release ‘Pendulum’ saw him collaborating with widely-acclaimed producer James Skelly (The Coral, Blossoms) and garnered widespread support from the likes of BBC Radio 6 Music, Radio X (John Kennedy), KEXP, XS Manchester, BBC Radio Manchester and Amazing Radio.

Find James online:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify | Youtube


A band onstage wearing christmas hats and the lead singer has his hand in the air

Ollie Hyland is a singer, songwriter, harmonica player and lead vocalist in Manchester band the Spotlighters. His songs bring together an eclectic range of influences from The Beach Boys to Prince, with lyrics which are at times surreally funny and, at others, poetic and sentimental.

The Spotlighters have played a number of high profile gigs at venues such as HOME and Manchester Central Library with performances often drawing praise for Ollie’s energy and charisma.

Check out their Youtube channel

Leave a Reply