A SCHOOL is to launch a major multi-venue arts festival across the North West.

Accrington Academy is poised to bring together a festival which is being supported by the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, actress Julie Hesmondhalgh and national DJ Adam Caterall.

The Access All Areas Arts Festival events will take place in Manchester and Accrington with everything from Shakespearean street theatre to art displays and talks from inspirational speakers.

The Queens Road West academy has teamed up with leading figures from the arts community to deliver a range of events and attractions.

Kicking off the festival is a series of inspirational talks at Manchester’s National Football Museum next week.

Taking the stage will be Rock FM and Radio 1 DJ Adam Cattarall, sixth form student Mehvish Mansha and Church actress Julie.

Also appearing is research scientist Professor Hugh Coe and former commando Ben McBean, a double amputee who recovered from horrific injuries to run the London Marathon.

There will also be a special appearance by the school’s own percussion band Drum Machine Accrington.

The school will round up the week with a sessions by the Parrabbola Theatre – working with students and staff on a performance of the classic love story Romeo and Juliet in Accrington town centre.

The town will also be invited to take part in Accrington Reads, a project bringing the community together to read, share and enjoy books. Reading events will take place around the academy including ‘The Reading World Cup’ and a visit from acclaimed children’s author Cathy Cassidy.

Principal Andy O’Brien said: “Creative learning and thinking is at the heart of everything we do at the academy and we are thrilled to be working again with a variety of agencies and artists to present a festival that appeals to all of Accrington’s diverse communities.”

Accrington Library will be hosting Thinking Beyond, the first Accrington Open Contemporary Art exhibition, which runs until June 20 and has been organised by Accrington Academy students, supported by artist Jez Dolan and Manchester City Art Gallery.

View the full programme at www.aaafestival.co.uk.