An Interview With: Matty Lacey - Founder
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
1. What made you first start Come Together NE?
Matty wanted to start Come Together NE as it's been in the works in his mind for many years. There is a need for artists of all forms to connect, support and empower themselves and each other because, despite individual social media profiles, there was no collective for them to support each other. With the situation as it is with this pandemic, it has made this need for artists to be supported even more vital. Using years of discussions and experiences from Newcastle Indie society and going to gigs e.t.c, Matty felt now was the time.
2. How do you think Come Together NE can help the Creative Arts Scene in the North East?
By connecting, supporting and empowering. Although it may only be digitally at the moment, once we are out there we already have these connections that can build on even more. The social media aspect has allowed for conversation and ideas and fundraising for causes that are in need as well as providing moral support. It creates solidarity and Matty feels it is very important to support minority and oppressed groups.
3. How do you feel the various groups related to and encouraged by Come Together NE can improve the North East and the Arts scene?
It is completely vital in order to limit division as it helps to allow diversity and for people to have their own voice and feel protected. Those with subjective experiences can talk for themselves and so Matty aims to create a safe environment without control - hence this collection of interviews along with a mirage of groups within CTNE.
4. What does the Men’s Mental Health Team mean to you?
Personal experience of struggles and anxiety and depression has influenced the meaningfulness of the CTNE Men’s Mental Health group. Matty has learnt that spells of these emotions are constant but it’s being able to deal with it without being self-destructive that we can help with. Having help can ensure you deal with it better. Through the lockdown, he has been able to notice that society and the world are what make people ill and we need to help that - it's not just an individual issue so we need to improve the world around us in order to improve ourselves and that's his goal.
5. How have you found life in lockdown so far?
He turned fear into energy and it has been empowering. Despite the North East having one of the highest death rates, CTNE is trying to spread love and strength: a message that has helped provide him with gratification. Seeing everyone else develop and realise their capability is worthwhile.
6. How do you decide which charities to support with your festivals?
In order to decide, Matty will look at causes and charities close to his heart or others. The first ‘festival’ raised money for the NHS which is close to a lot of people and is sadly underfunded in the North East. Being able to look for what's close to people's hearts in the community and what is the most productive thing to do is important. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big name, all that matters is what the cause stands for and if it needs to help. The next festival is close to his heart as well as a lot of the performers. Male suicide is the leading killer and we need to open up that discussion without dominating and excluding others.
7. How has the response been? Has it been as successful as hoped?
Blown away by the response. Come Together NE is grassroots with no financial backing or organisations helping and so to have so many people involved in such little time is amazing. It was just a natural build-up of people who want to improve the North East. He feels fortunate for all the people who have helped and gets emotional as it makes it so worthwhile. The idea of competition or rivalry needs to be broken which can create backlash but that’s how to start the breaking of walls. The world has changed completely now and in a dark world and the only way we can support ourselves and each other is to come together. Lots of things are going to come and go and they need to be dealt with collectively
8. How do you find new people to get involved?
Through a combination of experience, the individual and how they are most comfortable. It’s a holistic methodology that caters to everyone's needs. People are each different and need to be treated as individuals and Matty is learning day by day. Having seen cliques every day in all art forms, Matty understands we need to be able to have a conversation and give opinions but have that respect for each other that allows a range of people to be heard. Rather than looking for support from “experts”, we need to take on people who might have less experience. Now's the time to find people to unify and if we can't connect now when can we? With our government allowing people to die, we all need to support each other.
9. What are your favourite venues in the North East?
Little Buildings is a fantastic grassroots local venue which has started to get a lot of notice at the moment. There were a lot of things going on in Ouseburn before this that needed our attention. Little Building was made by the people for the people and Matty has lots of respect for Allan Scorer. Jumpin’ Jacks was also an amazing venue and with a great meaning: Tommy Byron created the space and venue as a tribute to his brother, Jack Byron, who passed. He would love something similar to reopen or start which CTNE would love to support. Matty also mentions Tavern in Blyth which hosts a Battle of the Bands that allow local music to be seen and heard. The Tavern was also supported by the last CTNE ‘festival’ as places like Blyth have a lot of funding issues that mean these venues need to be supported. The Tyneside Irish Centre is also a local pride to the community with fantastic gigs for older and younger bands that creates a real community spirit. They also provide support and fundraising for places like the University College Union. Finally, Matty mentions the Independent in Sunderland because Sunderland doesn't get enough credit. This was another venue that was supported by the last CTNE ‘festival’.
10. How do you feel we can continue to connect, empower and support the local scene?
You should continue to spread love and strength and passion, don't be scared to speak how you think and feel. You’re just as worthy as anyone else so be yourself and try new things and put yourself out there. Nil desperandum el carborundum.