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It is with great sadness that we let you know about the death of Mic Smith on 6th January 2018.


It is with great sadness that we let you know about the death of Mic Smith on 6th January 2018.

For those of you that did not know Mic, he was one of the original founder members of CAN then known as CAW  (Community Arts Workshop) in 1978 and a pioneer of the community arts movement in the North West.  He was a dear and much loved colleague during his time with the company leaving in the mid 90’s to work as an arts officer for Bolton Council.

Mic was a major force and talent as a visual artist working with communities.  In what was then a pre-digital age he made things. Mic could make and do anything. He could print words and images, worked with paint, wood, mosaics, textiles and just about any other material available. He worked with children, young people and adult communities, transforming spaces for community use, creating festivals, fireshows and other celebrations.   On secondment from CAN (then known as CAW) he also supported the setting up of other new community arts companies including Cartwheel Arts in Rochdale and Prescap in Preston.  He could apply himself to new skills and during his time at CAW he developed considerable expertise working with fireworks.

Mic worked throughout the North West but had a special relationship with the Ashton Under Lynne Youth and community services where he work on a wide range of community programmes. He was especially known for the environmental transformations he created with people such as the Hattersly precinct underground carpark which was turned into a stunning new youth centre- The Grand Canyon.

Mic was passionate about the arts and its positive influence for social change and a lot of his time with the company he was working with community organisations from trade unions and trades councils, tenants associations, play and youth organisations and activist groups who wanted to make a better life for their communities. He was also a great mentor to many people who he helped on their way and career paths.

I remember him as a deeply kind man, intelligent and curious about the world and a great human being. He had incredible patience and time for people.  I don’t think I ever saw Mic lose it!

Mic had been unwell for some time, following an operation and lived in residential accommodation in Rochdale. Sadly he had lost touch with many people in the last years of his life. Gerri Moriarty who kept in touch and saw him regularly says that ‘He kept his dry sense of humour and enjoyed an occasional beer with friends and his brother Adrian, who sadly also died a few years ago and that those of us who kept in touch with Mic will miss him very much’. Gerri has also written a blog remembering Mic.



Mic’s funeral will be held at 2.50pm on Wednesday 7th February at Rochdale Crematorium and afterwards at the Flying Horse in Rochdale Town Hall Square.

His funeral is being organised by his brother Chris and his good friend Tony Hughes who are keen to pass this information on to anyone that might have known him. I would appreciate it if you could circulate this information to any other potential people/networks that might have known Mic.

I am putting together a small archive of some of his work with CAN and if you have any photos or memories of Mic that you want to pass on – please let me know.

Cilla Baynes

Memories of Mic Smith


Steve Moffitt CEO for A New Direction

My memories of Mic are of a very gentle man, with a wry sense of humour and hugely generous spirit. He was quiet, thoughtful and I think in the 5 years I worked at Community Arts Workshop I only saw him lose his temper once. He had an extraordinary knowledge of the Northwest – an incredible memory for projects, people and a database in his head of where across the region to get a drill bit, hacksaw, raw plugs and masonry paint when needed. I remember being so excited when I got the job at CAW that I was working with the people who transformed an underground car park in Hattersley into an amazing multi-purpose beautiful functional and aspirational space – and I know Mic was the driving force to make that piece of work happen. He was hugely generous with his time particularly with the young people he worked with but also with the emerging new organisations and talented individuals who he supported to set them up and run them.  Whenever a project was about to go belly up Mic was always there to talk stuff through, find a solution – work out the problem and if necessary stay up all night to build a set. I remember the rattle of empty stella cans in the back of the Merc, journeys late at night after some project sharing driving across the M62 – his humour, his ability to laugh – and Mic had a great laugh. A warm human authentic laugh. He always told you when he thought something you had worked on was good. He was a quiet but lovely man and a great asset and contributor to those early days of Community Arts in the North West.

Howard Rifkin
Arts Consultant and one of original CAW founder members                                      

How very very sad to hear this news……..It is also very strange as only yesterday I was talking to my wife Su about something and a memory of a conversation I had had with Mic many years ago, came into the conversation and I hadn’t thought about him for a very long time! He was, as you say, a deeply kind man, so generous with his time and always a calming influence at those times of stress!

Tim Ward
Circling the Square Ltd                

That is extremely sad news – thank you for letting me know. Please pass on my condolences to his family & friends.

I have fond memories of working with Mic (and the CAW Team) during the early 80’s and will always be appreciative of the support, advice and friendship he showed me during those times.

Kooj Chuhan

Its lovely to see this photo of Mic especially since I have none of my own, and very sad to know he has now left us for good. I had lost touch with him over the years, but we worked together at Community Arts Workshop in the late 80’s and he was one of my very valued mentors along my own journey. Yes, he had a lovely dry sense of humour and he had an incredible passion for the work we were doing along with a healthy cynicism for the dominant powers both within the arts and beyond. He was an enormously committed arts worker who had an incredible humanity for those around him and for the issues that ordinary people face in the UK and across the world, and would support community-based political and campaigning organisations wherever he could. He helped me set up the Tameside Asian Music and Poetry project which later led on to me becoming the manager for BICA (Black Issues in Community Arts) at Tameside Council for ten years. That project and the direction I have taken ever since is in part due to Mic, he will always be remembered and his legacy will continue to be felt. May he have love, warmth, happiness and community wherever he may now be, many cheers to Mic!

Aldith Sinclair (nee Venair )     Atlanta,   Georgia.  

I worked with Mic for ten years at Community Arts Workshop at “The Old Tin School “.  I loved that building it was a maker’s dream land. For My first project, I had volunteered to work on the OPAG tour, a play scheme tour of Greater Manchester.   We had two teams of four artists – 2 visual artist / makers and 2 performance artists.

We spent a week designing, building and creating our characters for the tour. I was assigned to work with Mic Smith and Tim Ward to make the Big Juke box, the main character for the show. I had a ball learning how to choreograph, build and animate this huge soft sculpture- “The Big Juke”. That was the wonder world of community arts makers who could think of a fantastical idea  that would be created to be seen , heard or felt.

Mic was a maker, his visual arts skills knew no boundaries, painting a mural, mosaic, set design and making, rebuilding an environment for a community group. We worked with a diverse cross section of the Greater Manchester communities.  He dealt with me through my apprenticeship, hostile neighborhoods; I was not always what people were expecting when I appeared in person when being thrown in at the deep end was always up for the challenge.

He had to also deal with my loopy brain when I was pregnant. The timing was perfect?  CAW had landed a high profile project we had been vetted by the secret service and were working with a group who were preforming for the Queen. We also had a new client who would take us to China town restaurants for planning meetings. I had to mess up this arrangement with six months of morning sickness.  I could only eat after 10 pm. Mic would eat for the two of us. I have endless stories I could tell of the ten years with my “work husband”. I learnt so much, about the profession, he was a main player in the movement of community activism.

He will be greatly missed

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