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AV Festival 2016: Reading Group

29 February 2016 - 21 March 2016 Shop

AV Festival 2016: Meanwhile, what about Socialism?
Left Book Club Library : Festival Reading Group

NewBridge Books
Reading Group One & Two: The Road to Wigan Pier
Reading Group Three & Four: The Town that was Murdered

For the Festival month we ran a weekly reading group around two original Left Book Club titles published in the 1930s: George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier and The Town that was Murdered by Ellen Wilkinson. The first two weeks of the Festival discussed The Road to Wigan Pier; the second two weeks discussed The Town that was Murdered.


During the Festival, NewBridge Books became the Left Book Club Library, a reading room and meeting point, influenced by the original Left Book Club pioneered by Victor Gollanz from 1936–1948. The first socialist book club in Britain, it aimed to revitalise and educate the British Left, specifically in the fight against fascism, poverty and war. At its peak in 1939 it had 57,000 members and is credited with helping the Labour Party win its landslide victory in 1945. Considered as a political movement, as well as issuing a monthly book choice it also held an annual rally.

This reference library included over 100 of the original Left Book Club editions, alongside other contemporary political publications, available to browse and read for free.

You can also become a subscriber of the new Left Book Club more information here:


Curated by AV Festival 2016: Meanwhile, what about Socialism? as part of the Festival group exhibition across nine venues in Newcastle and Gateshead. The exhibition includes work by the following artists and archives: Thomas Spence (UK), Amber Films (UK), Jack Common/North East Film Archive (UK), Tim Brennan (UK), Hugo Canoilas (Portugal), Dan Perjovschi (Romania), Madhusudhanan (India), Pallavi Paul (India), Haim Sokol (Russia), R.E.P. (Ukraine), Claire Fontaine (France). The Festival title comes from a quote in George Orwell’s book ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’, which is the thematic framework for AV Festival 2016–2018. In 1936, Orwell spent two months living in the industrial North observing working-class life amidst growing social injustice, poverty and unemployment. The book is an analysis of English socialism, concluding that the basis of democratic socialism is equality and fairness. Mirroring the book’s structure, AV Festival 2016 is Part One, with artists situating themselves in relation to historic and contemporary political struggle. Presented in 14 venues the programme features 12 solo installations, 48 film screenings, nine artist talks and four performances.

For more information about the whole AV Festival programme, please visit:


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