Mollie Brown

Mollie Brown

Mollie Brown is an activist, student and mother, and an Associate Editor of Culture Matters. 

The Bread and Roses Songwriting and Spoken Word Award 2020
Friday, 13 September 2019 16:03

The Bread and Roses Songwriting and Spoken Word Award 2020

Published in Music

Mollie Brown introduces the Bread & Roses Songwriting and Spoken Word Award 2020, and 'the instinctive joy of taking control of cultural production'

The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) and Culture Matters are pleased to announce the third edition of their successful Bread & Roses Songwriting and Spoken Word Award. The Musicians’ Union is also supporting and sponsoring this award.

The Award is now open for submissions.  The new Award is a practical example of cultural democracy, with the aim of encouraging musicians and performers to write material meaningful to working-class people and communities, and to encourage those communities to develop and practice their creativity. This year’s Award will focus on five themes: Climate Emergency, Our Culture, More Than Profit, Workers’ Lives and Global Solidarity.

Entry is free and there is a £100 cash prize for each of the top five entries. The judges will be drawn from practising performers, the CWU, the MU, and members of Culture Matters.

Ron Brown, MU Regional Committee and Judge 2019, said:

The Bread and Roses Award is a fantastic opportunity for voices of the working class to be heard through song and poetry. The Musicians’ Union is very pleased to be supporting the Award again this time round. As one of the judges for the 2019 Award, it was a pleasure to listen to the very high quality of work submitted by the entrants, and I am very much looking forward to hearing all the entries submitted for the 2020 Award and once again being part of the judging panel. Submit your work and be heard!

Steve Pottinger, Winner 2019, said:

The Culture Matters Bread and Roses Awards do great and essential work in championing voices which speak about working-class life, and I was overjoyed to be one of the winners of this competition last year. Go on, submit your work. Tell your story. Find your audience.

Ben Young, Winner 2019, said:

The Bread and Roses Award is a great encouragement for us to play songs that capitalism wouldn't like.

Paul Dovey, CWU Education Officer, said:

'Tory Britain is Austerity Britain. Homeless people are left to fend for themselves on cold, dangerous streets. Foodbanks struggle to cope with demand. Children are going to school hungry. But a culture industry, dominated by the wealthy, remains mostly silent: worse, misleading and damaging stereotypes are promoted, denying the diversity of genuine working-class voices and culture. Now, more than ever, it is essential that a platform is provided for those voices to be heard and recognised. The Bread and Roses Songwriting and Spoken Word Award continues to
provide that platform.

We'd like to thank Culture Matters for organising this Award. It provides a vital platform for sharing the ideas and experiences of working people. They provide a place to celebrate working-class culture and the visceral, instinctive joy of taking control of cultural production.'

Submission Guidelines and Award Rules

Entry is open to all, regardless of trade union membership. The submission guidelines are as follows:

1. Entries should cover one or more of the following broad themes: Climate Emergency; Our Culture; More Than Profit; Workers' Lives; and Global Solidarity.

2. Entries can be from solo or bands of artists/performers, and are actively encouraged from grassroots, younger and emerging performers.

3. Entries should be one song or performance of original material, in English, either unpublished or previously published after 1st January 2019.

4. Entries should be submitted as audio or live/pre-recorded video files (MP3/4 format or video) via email. All entries will be judged equally, but some video entries may be also selected to feature on the Culture Matters YouTube channel.

5. Entry is free and is open to all residents of Great Britain, regardless of trade union membership. Culture Matters will fund five prizes of £100 each.

6. All entries will remain the copyright of the entrant, but CWU and Culture Matters will have the right to publish them online and in other media.

7. The organisers accept no responsibility for entries that are incorrectly submitted or not delivered due to technical faults.

8. By entering the Award, entrants agree to accept and be bound by the rules of the Award and the decisions of the judges.

9. Due to the likely volume of entries, the organisers regret that they cannot enter into correspondence with individual entrants.

10. Entries should be sent via email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The deadline for receipt of submissions is midnight on December 14th, 2019. When emailing submissions, please provide your full name, chosen theme, postal address and phone number.

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The Bread and Roses Songwriting and Spoken Word Award 2020
Tuesday, 05 March 2019 20:44

The Bread and Roses Songwriting and Spoken Word Award 2020

Published in Round-up

The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) and Culture Matters are pleased to announce the third edition of their successful Bread & Roses Songwriting and Spoken Word Award. The Musicians’ Union is also supporting and sponsoring this award.

The Award is now open for submissions.  It is a practical example of cultural democracy, with the aim of encouraging musicians and performers to write material meaningful to working-class people and communities, and to encourage those communities to practice their creativity and take control of cultural production. This year’s Award will focus on five themes: Climate Emergency, Our Culture, More Than Profit, Workers’ Lives and Global Solidarity.

Entry is free and there is a £100 cash prize for each of the top five entries. For the full set of rules and guidelines on submission, see the article in the Music section. 

Rise Up Higher than the Tower Blocks: Bread and Roses Songwriting and Spoken Word Award 2018
Tuesday, 20 November 2018 22:48

Rise Up Higher than the Tower Blocks: Bread and Roses Songwriting and Spoken Word Award 2018

Published in Music

The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) and Culture Matters are pleased to announce the second edition of their successful Bread and Roses Songwriting and Spoken Word Award.The Musicians' Union is also sponsoring and supporting the Award.

The Award is an example of cultural democracy - the struggle for a more democratic and socialist approach to the arts and all cultural activities, accompanying the struggle of the working class for political and economic democracy. Our aim is to encouraging young and emerging musicians and performers in particular to write material relevant to working-class people, culture and communities.

There is a £100 cash prize for each of the top five entries. The judges will be drawn from practising performers, the CWU, the MU, and members of Culture Matters.

Dave Ward, General Secretary of the CWU, said:

I welcome this continuing partnership with Culture Matters. The arts and culture generally are vital to the labour movement, and working-class communities across the country. We want to build on the grassroots DIY ethic started by punk music, celebrate the new opportunities for working class people to write songs, make music and perform spoken word, and encourage contributions from people who might otherwise not consider entering competitions.

We are sponsoring this Award because we want to encourage our members in the CWU, and working people everywhere, to express themselves creatively on themes that matter to them as workers and which help develop understanding of the cultural struggle for a better world.

So get writing and get performing, and send your entries in!

Attila the Stockbroker, one of the judges, said:

This new Award is a great idea. There’s a real need to encourage younger and emerging performers to write and perform songs and poetry that mean something to ordinary working- class people rather than the mind-numbingly bland rubbish force-fed us by the mainstream music business and media. Get involved – and encourage people you know to get involved!

Paul Dovey, Project Manager, CWU Education and Training Department, said this to CWU colleagues at the launch:

Bread and Roses comes from a quote by Rose Schneiderman, a Polish-American trade union activist, a century ago. She argued that, "The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too." That, in addition enough wages to survive on the workers must have dignity too, so that all humanity should be able to share and contribute to the cultural richness of our civilisation.

Today, when people are queuing at food banks and when TV, film and music are dominated by the Oxbridge elite, we must again demand both Bread and Roses. There is a desperate need to provide a platform for working-class voices. We have always used poetry and song to express ourselves and to share our ideas - and we won't be silenced.

This is a truly democratic artform. All you need is a pen and paper. Any smartphone will download basic recording apps - as good as what most of the classic albums were recorded on.

And as Warlord Baker, one of last year's winners, sang: “one of these days we'll rise up, higher than the tower blocks!

Rules and Guidelines for Submissions

1. Entry is free and is open to all residents of Great Britain, regardless of trade union membership.

2. Entries should broadly deal with any aspect of working-class life, communities, culture and concerns.

3. Entries can be from solo or duo artists/performers, and are actively encouraged from grassroots, younger and emerging performers.

4. Entries should consist of one song or performance of original material, in English, whether previously published or not.

5. Entries should be submitted as audio or live/pre-recorded video files (MP3/4 format or video) via email. All entries will be judged equally, but some video entries may be also selected to feature on the Culture Matters YouTube channel, which is currently in development.

6. Culture Matters will fund five prizes of £100 each.

7. All entries will remain the copyright of the entrant, but CWU and Culture Matters will have the right to publish them online and in other media.

8. The organisers accept no responsibility for entries that are incorrectly submitted or not delivered due to technical faults.

9. By entering the Award, entrants agree to accept and be bound by the rules of the Award and the decisions of the judges.

10. Due to the likely volume of entries, the organisers regret that they cannot enter into correspondence with individual entrants.

11. Entries should be sent via email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The deadline for receipt of submissions is midnight on March 2nd 2019. When emailing submissions, please provide your full name, postal address and phone number. Contact Mollie Brown at the above email address for posters and with any queries on the competition.