When we take a look back at the past 18 months, it’s difficult to see another industry that’s taken a harder hit than the Night Time Economy.
As the reality of the COVID-19 crisis began to set in back in March 2020, nightclubs and culture venues were forced to close their doors and largely remain shuttered until merely a few weeks ago, and while theatres and live music venues were able to reopen for short periods of time to stage performances, this had been under strict restrictions around capacity, movement, mask wearing, and social distancing to keep people safe.
Those ongoing restrictions, combined with “insufficient sector specific financial support from government”, at one point meant that the sector and its supply chains were at real risk of collapse.
A dedicated group of cross-party MPs, peers, and leading industry figures even had to come together in December 2020 to establish an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to represent the best interests of the sector – which it said had been particularly under-represented politically, and undervalued both culturally and economically by government.
The group stated that the Night Time Economy had “borne the brunt of COVID restrictions”, and that it believed the crisis was an “existential threat” to the industry.
“The sector has faced enormous challenges, and thousands of bars, nightclubs, and live events businesses are at risk of collapse,” Labour MP for Manchester Withington Jeff Smith said at the time the AAPG was formed.
To put it simply, it wasn’t looking good.
And for a region with a cultural footprint as significant as Greater Manchester’s, and a proud tradition of music, arts and entertainment – with music tourism alone having been said to generate £169 million for the local economy pre-pandemic – it truly could have been devastating.
But when the final stage of the government’s roadmap to lifting lockdown was confirmed to commence from 19 July, venues were finally given the long-awaited green light to reopen as normal, and the struggling industry could breathe a collective sigh of relief.
While reopening may have been the goal, the challenge was far from over though.
Our venues arguably needed support from the community at this time more than ever, and so to make sure were doing our bit to help Greater Manchester get back on its feet, The Manc teamed up with multi award-winning streaming platform StreamGM last month to show some serious love and support to the region’s renowned theatres, nightclubs and live music hubs with the launch of SeeGM – a digital campaign to shine a bright spotlight on many of the amazing events, club nights, gigs and shows in our region.
The aim of the #SeeGM campaign was to inspire residents to revisit their favourite haunts, buy tickets for future events, and safely experience more of the region’s vibrant culture and nightlife.
“Greater Manchester is the city of 24-hour party people,” our Brand Director Anna Gledson said on the launch of the SeeGM campaign last month.
“We hope with everyone’s support, our region’s venues will be thriving again very soon.”
We were keen to encourage people to take to social media to post both their happy memories of times spent at gigs, shows and events gone by, as well as share their first experiences of heading ‘out-out’ after 19 July, all while promoting being kind and respectful to staff, other audience members, and partygoers.
We did this through a dedicated social and editorial content strategy that involved the views and suggestions of our audience of over one million loyal Mancunians across our social media platforms – touching on everything from the best nights out in Greater Manchester, to some of the best arts and culture events to visit this summer.
We also had the pleasure of speaking to some leading industry figures for the SeeGM video series to get their take on why Greater Manchester’s nightlife is so world-renowned.
Speaking on the wealth of content created for the SeeGM campaign over the last month, Laura Graham – co-founder of StreamGM – said: “For the SeeGM video series, we interviewed different people who curate, promote, perform, or work in these places and ask them about reopening, what safety measures they have in place and why they think Manchester is the best for nightlife and culture.
“We got some real insight, charisma and heartfelt quotes from our interviewees, and this helped to raise awareness and remind people why Manchester is just a cut about the rest.
“Our grassroots venues, nightclubs and performance spaces are helping us heal emotionally from the pandemic through enjoying shared experiences and being able to socialise properly again.”
Touching on the success of the campaign, Laura added: “It’s been ace getting positive feedback from local operators about SeeGM and so good to see people out in these places having a blast and dancing together again.
“A huge thank you to everyone who took part in the campaign for helping make SeeGM so much fun to create.”
The #SeeGM campaign may be drawing to a close, but Greater Manchester is still thriving.
So, what can you keep doing to help? Well, as the region continues to open up and adapt to the new normal over the next few months, the support of residents will still be as important as ever, so make sure you experience all the region has to offer as safely you possibly can, while respecting staff, surroundings, locals and fellow partygoers – and most of all, keep making Manchester proud.
Featured Image – The Manc Group