Music venues, Theatres and almost all indoor spaces we use to escape and enhance our lives are under threat. This series explores the venues affected around the country, how they have dealt with the lockdown up to this point and why it is so vital that they return once lockdown is over. Second in this series Maddi Fearn runs you through the Manchester venues in need of support right now.
This week we’ve seen flurries of excited shoppers brandishing banknotes descend upon Manchester’s retail stores but the fate of some of the cities’ greatest live venues still remains as unclear as before. While Caroline Lucas gave an emotional speech in Parliament this week urging the government to develop a dedicated programme of support for our creative industries, the government has failed to put forward a coherent plan.
Our identity as a nation is inextricably bound to cultural innovation, and the permanent closure of these venues would have a detrimental effect on Manchester’s grassroots music scene. As well as hurting venue staff, promoters and sound engineers (to name but a few), the loss of these venues would also seriously restrict opportunities for artists and audiences to connect in a meaningful way at a local level.
To help fight these closures, Music Venues Trust has launched the #savourvenues campaign, which aims to prevent the permanent shutting of these vital venues due to COVID-19. So far, the campaign has managed to save over 150 venues, but there are still over 400 which remain in the red as the music industry continues to weather out the devastating impact of the pandemic.
Night People/ The Twisted Wheel/ The Rose & Monkey Hotel
Toeing a perfect balance between musical culture old and new, Night People hosts an eclectic mix of live music, presenting grassroots bands alongside the legendary Twisted Wheel Club. As well as being Manchester’s longest running club night since 1963, Twisted Wheel was also key in launching the Northern Soul movement in and around the city. Under the stewardship of new management (Chris Slater and Leigh Handford, who also run The Rose and Monkey) as of 2017, Night People is best known today as a popular student dive renowned for its great sound, cheap pints and quality club nights.
You can support Night People/Twisted Wheel/ The Rose & Monkey Hotel here.
The Stoller Hall
Based alongside Chetham’s School of Music in the heart of Manchester, The Stoller Hall presents a bit of everything from chamber music, international touring artists, home-grown folk, contemporary takes on classical music, jazz, family concerts and the best of young musical talent. We spoke the General Manager Fran Healey about the impact lockdown has had on the venue: “Our way of life has been broken, for now. But we must keep the music alive! If we can afford to keep a low level of staffing during lockdown, then we can continue to engage with audiences, we can plan our programme for reopening, and we can hopefully provide socially distanced space in the short to medium term for artists to rehearse individually and together, where they can record, and where they can create broadcasts for people to enjoy at home.”
You can donate to The Stoller Hall here.
Castle/ Eagle Inn/ Gullivers
Having first opened their doors back in 1776, 1846 and 1865, its unsurprising that the Castle, Eagle Inn and Gullivers are such a vital part of Manchester’s current cultural identity. The establishment of music halls within the venues has seen many young bands and artists cut their teeth within their walls, which have consequently become cornerstones of the city’s music scene. As well as providing a platform for grassroots musicians, the venues are also home to some of Manchester’s best spoken word, comedy and theatre performances. “As a collective, Castle Hotel, Gullivers and Eagle Inn embody the ethos of traditional pubs focusing on good beer, community and creativity. Working with local breweries, all three pubs have been updated while remaining true to our historical roots in appearance and atmosphere; All enhanced by our friendly staff and great jukeboxes! In converting the various existing spaces we extensively made use of original and character features to create unique and beautiful venues in which to experience live music and performing arts with great, modern sound quality.”
You can support Castle/ Eagle Inn/ Gullivers here.
Band On The Wall
Harking back to the venue’s infant years during the early 20 th century, this venue takes its unusual name from the area regulars referred to as the ‘Band on the Wall’, where house musicians literally played on a stage halfway up the back wall to make room in the hectic pub. During its two century long stint we’ve seen the venue win multiple awards, gain a reputation as the best bar in Manchester for jazz, folk and blues, host early Buzzcocks and Joy Division gigs and become an integral part of the city’s musical and cultural landscape.
You can donate to Band On The Wall here.