Art & Culture
The Manchester art and culture scene is mint. There’s literally something for everyone; we’re talking-gallery goers, theatre enthusiasts, music nutters and museum lovers. Ian Brown from the Stone Roses (one of the Manchester music scene’s finest) once said, ‘Manchester has everything except a beach’, and even then we’ve got trains to Blackpool, what else do you need?
Mancunian culture lives in the city’s architecture. The skyline of the city centre is instantly recognisable, and you’ve probably seen it in loads of TV shows. Beetham Tower sticks out as the UK’s tallest building outside of London, Manchester Town Hall looks like it belongs in a Harry Potter film and Victoria has seen steam trains turn to electric, and is definitely fit for a visit from Paddington Bear if someone could track him down.
The culture of Manchester can’t be erased by developers, even if some have tried. Ancoats Dispensary, a Grade II listed former hospital, stands on Old Mill Street and was heroically saved by a neighbourhood passionate about preserving its heritage. The building was established in 1828 and opened its doors as a hospital in 1874, seeing many Ancoats residents nursed to better health. When plans were made to demolish it, the neighbourhood sprung into action to battle for its cultural significance. It was home to the country’s first fracture clinic, Manchester’s first radiology department and the workplace of Peter McEvedy, one of the most talented surgeons of his day. A whole small grassroots organisation came together to fundraise and secure heritage funding allowing the Ancoats Dispensary to be saved and restored, a true story of what Manchester’s culture means to its people, and the power of our community.
But culture isn’t all in the past for Manchester, the scene is positively thriving. A new landmark arts complex The Factory is in development and there’s a new installation allowing you a sneak peak inside. The sound and light installation ‘Arcadia’ sees a field of luminous tents that weave together some of the greatest nature poetry ever written (we’re talking Sappho, Yeats and Heaney among many more). There are recorded contributions from Northern actors and musicians to fill the space sonically. It’s an incredible first look at a venue that is going to change the face of culture in Manchester, and globally. We’ve got to say it, Manchester is pretty top notch at making cultural history, so we’re confident in The Factory too.
When it comes to what’s on in Manchester we’re definitely in the know, so here’s a few things you can get up to in the arts and culture scene.
From Galleries to the Streets: The Art Scene in Manchester
The local author Eddie Taiwo has spent years and years exploring every nook and cranny of Manchester, cataloguing all of the best street art the city’s brick and stone has to offer for his book. You can pick up a copy and experience them in print, many of them no longer exist in person, but loads of them are still around so you can do your own Manchester street art tour if you’d like. It’s a great way of engaging with the community’s artists who don’t get to display their work in big galleries, but instead get to have their art live and breathe on the streets of the city.
Is that Bugs Bunny skateboarding down a handrail? Yes, you saw it right. A new street art trail appeared in Manchester, harking back to the cultural phenomenon Looney Tunes, to welcome people back into the city after lockdown. It’s vibrantly colourful and fun, and a family friendly walking tour too. Whether you’ve got kids, or you’re simply nostalgia-hunting in the sunshine it’s good fun to see Wile E. Coyote chasing Road Runner around Symphony Park.
When it comes to the Manchester culture scene art galleries are a great way to absorb as much of it as possible in one place. Manchester Art Gallery is the city’s flagship and its new exhibition is an introduction to how the famous gallery’s collection was formed. In a city where textiles were central to its history and growth, The Whitworth continues that tradition and importance with their collection as well as the modern art they exhibit.
Explore Manchester’s Cultural History
If museums are your thing then we have great news for you, Manchester brings together loads of different cultures and heritage with an array of museums. You can try the People’s History Museum for the history of our democracy. Or The Pankhurst Centre to learn about Emeline Pankurst, and her role in organising the Suffragette movement that changed the culture of the UK forever. Or Science and Industry Museum where you can see original cotton mill machinery, learn about Factory Records, Space and Alan Turing’s code breaking Bletchley Park team – all in one place! Or the National Football Museum, from how it started in Manchester to how it became a global sport, and what made the face of football culture. Or…well you get the point.
There’s too much to say about Manchester’s art and culture scene and there’s even more to actually go and experience. Don’t forget to make sure you make time for a pit stop at one of the amazing bars, cafes or restaurants in Manchester. You can explore more about the most current things on the scene in the articles below, and keep up to date with the latest on The Manc Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.