How Lancastrian Fiona Frank made it to the top 20 arts power list in Jewish Renaissance magazine

Former Prestonian Fiona Frank has been named among the top 20 people in Jewish arts.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 1:50 pm

Fiona, who now lives near Lancaster, was included in the power list by cultural magazine Jewish Renaissance in a feature to mark its 20th anniversary.

The list includes children's author Michael Rosen and people influential in the world of music, writing and arts activism.

Fiona, who has a PhD for her research work on Scottish Jewish identity said she is delighted at the accolade of gaining a place on the list.

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Fiona Frank Photograph: Ruth Corney

During lockdown Fiona, author of ‘Candles, Conversions and Class: Five Generations of A Scottish Jewish Family’ ,organised a series of "musical journeys" featuring musicians and music from around the world. The concerts raised money for Global Link, a charity hoping to open a centre for refugees and assylum seekers in Lancaster and for A.C.E. ,a Lancaster and Morecambe charity which helps young people with mental health issues.

Fiona is a former pupil of Woodlands School, Preston and Queen Mary School, Lytham. She studied languages at the University of Bath. She was secretary of the Lancaster and Lakes Jewish Community and worked for many years at Lancaster University in educational research. Early in her career she was involved in a workplace learning initiative at Baxi at Bamber Bridge when researching workplace literacy.

The former morris dancer and ceilidh caller is also renowned for her work in Klezmer dancing and music and calls Klezmer dances. Klezmer is a distinctive instrumental Jewish music tradition with roots in central and Eastern Europe and includes dance tunes, ritual melodies, and improvisations. Fiona describes how she swapped her melodeon for a concertina when she decided to start playing "the Klezmer music that lifted her soul".

She is on the committee of Kleznorth and helped to organise the last eight Kleznorth festivals.

Fiona pictured Klezmer dancing

Her work for the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities saw her researching the Scottish Jewish community and programming Jewish cultural events all over Scotland, including numerous Klezmer concerts and dances.

She has also done much to promote the work of her late aunt, Glasgow based artist Hannah Frank.

Fiona’s father Dr Leo Frank was a Preston GP whose surgery was off Garstang Road. It was folllowing his death that Fiona returned to her Jewish roots.

Now retired she is still busy. She said: "I’m back helping the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities to launch a development project, Jewish Scotland Connected, helping the Scottish Jewish community to keep the benefits of lockdown when returning to live events (learning to livestream to keep connected with housebound people, families, and people in the Scottish Highlands and Islands)."

Fiona Frank has been named amongst the top 20 people in Jewish Arts by Jewish Renaissance magazine

Most recently Fiona has joined the two protest marches in Glasgow during the current COP 26 event, which highlighted protestors' concerns about the climate crisis and what they see as lack of progress at the international conference. She said: "It was so uplifting on Friday to take part in call and response songs led by really young people and young children."

During the pandemic Fiona also ran mini Zoom courses and programmed online international Klezmer concerts and Klezmer cabarets.

For our report on Fiona's book and research see here To read an article about Fiona's lockdown fundraising see here

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