A huge new festival-style temporary outdoor venue that’s three times the size of Albert Square is preparing to open in Manchester city centre.
In an attempt to provide an outdoor summer destination for those looking for a safe and fun night out as lockdown eases even further over the next couple of months, local theatre and arts centre HOME Manchester is launching its latest venture, Homeground, on a disused patch of land close to the First Street venue itself on Friday 28th May.
Building on a ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ theme, Homeground is set to boast theatre shows on two stages, alongside pop-up street food vendors, comedy clubs, DJ sets and more.
Partnering with other cultural institutions such as Frog & Bucket, Contact Theatre, and Trans Creative to bring a programme of events to the city centre, the first two Homeground shows to be announced are Filter’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – which was first seen at Latitude Festival – and a brand-new production of Alice in Wonderland, which has been created by Stockroom Productions especially for Manchester.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – a remixed and reworked version of Shakespeare’s tale of young lovers and warring fairies – will run from 3rd June – 26th June.
The brand-new production of Alice In Wonderland – running from 15th July – 7th August – features classic anthems and catchy new songs, and will follow Alice and her little brother Lewis as they tumble into an alternative world full of magic and mayhem as Manchester turns to Madchester.
Tickets for both shows will be just £10 for adults.
A second stage, to be known as ‘The Manchester Stage’, will feature DJ slots that have been curated by DJ Paulette, as well as a Manchester Folk Festival takeover and several other free events.
Street food venders will include cocktails by Wolf at the Door, Tibetan Kitchen, Black Market Espresso, and Basilico pizza.
Speaking ahead of the launch of Homeground, Dave Moutrey – Director and CEO at HOME Manchester – said: “As we start to emerge from the strangest year many of us have ever experienced, arts and culture play a vital role in the recovery of the country [so] I’m delighted to announce Homeground.
“[It will be] a safe and enjoyable space for the people of Manchester to have fun, reconnect and celebrate the city’s artistic talent in all its forms”.
The site has been designed by Cordelia Ashwell, of Decordia Events, who added: “The idea behind the overall site design grew from a collaboration with HOME’s Curator, Bren O’Callaghan.
“From the outset, we felt that rather than try to disguise the brownfield nature of the site, we would lean into the detritus that accumulates in pockets of the urban fabric [so] influenced by scrapyards, the neon graveyard of Las Vegas and remnants of stories that attach themselves to architectural salvage, we settled upon a method of display popularised by the Victorians and in municipal museums – the Wunderkammer, or Cabinet of Curiosities.
“In this way, seemingly random and otherwise ordinary objects become extra-ordinary.
“Bren and I have been hunting down key iconic artefacts, some of which we think the public will recognise, and others may come as a bit of a surprise”.
More shows and events will be announced over the coming months.
You can find more information ahead of the venue’s launch on Friday 28th May via the HOME Manchester website here, and by following @homegroundmcr on Instagram.
‘Significant risk’ of UK gas shortages this winter, regulator warns
Energy regulator Ofgem has warned that the UK faces a ‘significant risk’ of gas shortages this winter.
According to reports in The Times, the regulator has unveiled concerns that the country could face blackouts over the coming months thanks to an undersupply of gas to Europe caused by Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Warning that a “gas supply emergency” could be looming ahead, the energy regulator has said that some gas-fired power plants could see their supplies cut off, which in turn would stop generators from producing electricity.
The alert comes just days before an expected update from the National Grid on the likelihood of countrywide power cuts this winter.
Responsing to arequest from SSE, which owns several gas power stations, Ofgem outlined what is set to be a huge issue of concern given that the UK relies on large gas plants to produce the biggest share of its electricity supply.
The regulator also pointed to rules that could see power plants penalised as a result of shortages, warning of a worst-case scenario that would see the “potential insolvency of gas-fired generators” caused by rules that require plants to pay huge charges if they fail to deliver on promised quotas.
Adding that the issue must be addressed to prevent a “significant impact on the safety and security of the electricity and/or gas systems”, the regulator echoed concerns now widespread in Europe as its comments followed a similar statement made by the International Energy Agency (IEA) this morning.
Europeans are already being told they must lower their thermostats and boilers in preparation in case gas supplies are cut off, with Paris-based agency IEA warning today that the EU must focus on getting underground gas reserve levels to 90% of capacity in case of a complete Russian supply shut-off.
Preparation are already being made in Europe with the German government having approved a set of energy-saving measures for the winter to limit use in public buildings. In France, meanwhile, companies have already been warned they may face energy rationing this winter.
Whilst the UK government is yet to announce any energey saving measures, Ofgem has said that it expect s“this winter to be more challenging than last year” and that it is taking “reasonable regulatory steps to mitigate and reduce the risks”.