INSP Awards: best cultural writing from street papers 2015/16

Johnny Rotten vies with Taylor Swift, Pixar takes on a former prima ballerina, and roller derby fans echo Gloria Steinem’s feminism… it can only be the best of street paper cultural features!

The nominees for the INSP’s Awards for Best News Feature and Best Cultural Feature come from the hundreds of contributions we receive to our unique News Service.

This free wire service allows street papers to share content with their international peers and makes hundreds of articles available for free to INSP’s member street papers.

Our Best Cultural Feature award will go to the best feature, interview or story focusing on arts, entertainment and culture. Judges will consider a range of elements, including: original approach; incisive interviews; excellence in writing style.

The features below are our top ten nominees for this category. They will now go through to our international editorial panel who will pick our five finalists. We will announce these in May.

The ultimate winners of all awards will be announced in June at the Global Street Paper Summit and, of course, right here.

Check out our Best News Feature nominees here.

The Big Issue, UK

John Lydon: How I became Rotten
By Peter Ross

John Lydon, better known as Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten, is a self-proclaimed King of the Outsiders. He tells The Big Issue about the great outsiders and originals, from Gandhi to Mae West, who helped shaped his world.

Read the full interview here.

The Big Issue, UK

Pixar and the art of manipulation
By Steven MacKenzie

Joy. Sadness. Anger. Happiness. Disgust. The Big Issue’s Steven MacKenzie explores the evolution of emotion – from fear or flight to Pixar’s latest tearjerker, Inside Out. He speaks to the film’s director Ronnie Del Carmen psychology experts to discover how and why films alter our mood more dramatically than real-life experiences.

Read the full article here.

Illustration: Big Issue Australia

The Big Issue Australia

The power of the podcast
By Melissa Cranenburgh

2015 was a big year for podcasts, with hit true crime series Serial opening up the medium to a new, global audience. But The Big Issue Australia’s Melissa Cranenburgh’s obsession with downloadable audio series started a long time ago. She removes her headphones to explain the power of the podcast and why, in a supposed era of disconnection, the act of listening to someone telling you a story is both intimate and compelling.

Big Issue North, UK

Pioneering feminist Gloria Steinem: Clinton “has to be” president
By Antonia Charlesworth

For more than five decades Gloria Steinem has been synonymous with feminism and the advancement of women’s rights in the U.S. Today, the pioneering journalist and political activist still has the power to make waves, as her support for Hillary Clinton shows. Steinem explains why she’s ready for Hillary, as well as the key issues facing global feminism and why violence against women is the most pressing issue for the movement.

Read the interview here.

Taylor Swift poses with her copy of The Contributor Photo: Kevin Barbieux

The Contributor, USA

Oh! The impossible lightness of being Taylor Swift
By Holly Gleason

In the midst of her colossal world tour, global superstar Taylor Swift took some time out to speak to The Contributor’s Holly Gleason. In this exclusive interview, the multiple Grammy Award-winning artist discusses crossing over from country to pop in her smash hit album 1989 and her determination to stay true to herself, and her loyal legion of fans.

Read the interview here.

Megaphone, Canada

“Roller derby changed my life”
By Quinn MacDonald

After enjoying a fierce grassroots revival in the noughties, Roller Derby smashed into the spotlight with the release of 2009 sports comedy Whip It, starring Ellen Page. The sport continues to grow in popularity around the world, including in Victoria, Canada, where the local roller derby league is thriving thanks to its relentless crew of skaters who volunteer their time to move a beloved sport forward. Canadian skater Quinn MacDonald, aka ‘The Wife of Wrath,’ writes for Megaphone about how the inclusive and supportive culture of derby changed her life, and how it continues to challenge and break down barriers, particularly around gender identity and sports performance.

Read the article here.

Victoria's Derby Demons. Photo:

Scarp de’ tenis, Italy

Arthur Ashe: ‘The Black Prince’ of tennis
By Gianni Mura

Top Italian reporter Gianni Mura pays tribute to legendary American tennis player Arthur Ashe, 40 years after he made history by becoming the first black man to win Wimbledon. The article looks back on the extraordinary career and life of the American No.1 tennis player, who was a staunch defender of civil rights. He died of AIDS in 1993 at the age of 50.

Sorgenfri, Norway

Master Diep: myths and truths behind a kung fu legend
By Trond Ola Tilseth

It’s been said that Vietnamese kung fu legend Master Diep can smash planks with his index finger and throw knives at tiny targets with pinpoint accuracy, while blindfolded. Norwegian street paper Sorgenfri paid a visit to Master Diep’s studio in Trondheim to meet the man behind the myths. They reveal the fascinating story of how he survived a perilous crossing of the Pacific Ocean from Vietnam over two decades ago to become a tough, no-nonsense coach in Norway.

Surprise, Switzerland

Former prima ballerina on bringing dance to those fleeing conflict
By Mara Wirthlin

Former prima ballerina Catherine Habasque inspires people whose lives have been affected by poverty and conflict to dance. She talks about her non-profit organisation Dancers for the World, the restorative and empowering aspect of dance and how she has triumphed over the early career death common to ballet dancers.

Rex Hohlbein

Real Change, USA

Through images and art, Rex Hohlbein is changing perceptions of homelessness
By Aaron Burkhalter

Seattle-based architect, photo-journalist and community activist architect Rex Hohlbein built his non-profit, Facing Homelessness, on the back of a Facebook page called ‘Homeless in Seattle’. The page shares true stories of homelessness and has amassed more than 16,000 followers. Hohlbein will present an exhibition of his photographs at the Global Street Paper Summit in Seattle on 22 June. He speaks to Summit co-hosts Real Change about how his work grew from a personal Facebook project to a full non-profit that works to challenge negative perceptions of homelessness.