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Man­ches­ter’s cre­ative resurgence


Alexan­der MacDonald

Man­ches­ter is grow­ing up, peo­ple – and it’s about time we acknowl­edged it. For too long, we’ve been seen as the grit­ty, indus­tri­al city of the North that’s past its prime. Gone are the days when Man­ches­ter was just known for its rainy weath­er, music scene and two foot­ball teams. These days, Man­ches­ter is a thriv­ing metrop­o­lis, brim­ming with cre­ativ­i­ty and inno­va­tion to rival any­where else.

And we’re not just talk­ing about grow­ing in terms of size when we look out our win­dows at the sky-high cranes and fan­cy new build­ings pop­ping up all over the city. We’re talk­ing about the way the city has evolved and matured as a cre­ative hub. Now, we’re a city that’s being recog­nised for its thriv­ing arts and cul­ture indus­try, its boom­ing food and drink sec­tor, and its inno­v­a­tive and for­ward-think­ing businesses.

The place we call home has always been a city of rein­ven­tion. From the Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion, when it was the world’s first indus­tri­al city, to the post-indus­tri­al era, when it trans­formed into a hub for the cre­ative indus­tries. But in recent years, some­thing has shift­ed in the city’s DNA. How­ev­er we feel about it, there’s no get­ting away from the fact that the city’s in trans­for­ma­tion, not just phys­i­cal­ly, but cul­tur­al­ly, and it’s becom­ing an even greater haven for cre­ative communities. 

Man­ches­ter is grow­ing up, yes, but it’s about time we gave it the cred­it it deserves too. The truth is, our city has always been a hotbed of cre­ativ­i­ty and inno­va­tion, and it’s only get­ting better.

The NQ and Ancoats

Let’s start with the obvi­ous — the North­ern Quar­ter and Ancoats. These areas have become a mec­ca for the bur­geon­ing cre­ative com­mu­ni­ties in Man­ches­ter, becom­ing one of the biggest dri­ving forces behind the trans­for­ma­tion. But it’s not just the trendy cof­fee shops, vin­tage cloth­ing stores, and inde­pen­dent bars that make these areas so spe­cial. It’s the sense of com­mu­ni­ty and belong­ing that you get from being a part of this scene.

Once known for their dilap­i­dat­ed ware­hous­es and rough-around-the-edges vibe, these areas have become a breed­ing ground for cre­ative out­fits. The North­ern Quar­ter and Ancoats are the epi­cen­tres of Man­ches­ter’s cre­ative sec­tor, home to an eclec­tic mix of influ­ences, as well as a thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ty of artists, design­ers, and musicians.

The NQ, in par­tic­u­lar, has a bohemi­an vibe that’s hard to resist. It’s the per­fect place to explore Man­ches­ter’s alter­na­tive side, with its vin­tage shops, street are, and alter­na­tive bars and clubs. It’s a melt­ing pot of cul­tures, styles, and atti­tudes, and it’s this diver­si­ty that makes it so vibrant. You can lit­er­al­ly walk down the street and see a punk rock­er next to a hip­ster, a busi­ness­woman next to a stu­dent, and it all feels per­fect­ly nor­mal. It’s this accep­tance and inclu­sive­ness that makes the North­ern Quar­ter such a unique and spe­cial place.

Ancoats, on the oth­er hand, is a bit more up-and-com­ing, with a focus on the new and the inno­v­a­tive. A place on the rise, it’s quick­ly mak­ing a name for itself as one of the city’s most excit­ing places, with a grow­ing num­ber of inde­pen­dent busi­ness­es doing things dif­fer­ent­ly to the sta­tus quo and home to a strong com­mu­ni­ty spir­it. There’s no won­der then it’s also one of the most sought-after places to live and work for cre­ative minds. With its indus­tri­al past, the area is full of stun­ning, restored Vic­to­ri­an mills, and fac­to­ries with that sig­na­ture red brick­work con­vert­ed into cool new bars and restau­rants trendy apart­ments, neo-indus­tri­al style offices, and quirky shops. Buzzing with ener­gy and inspi­ra­tion, Ancoats is a per­fect exam­ple of how Man­ches­ter is tak­ing its indus­tri­al past and glow­ing it up into some­thing new and exciting.

But Man­ches­ter’s cre­ative scene isn’t just lim­it­ed to these two neigh­bour­hoods. The entire city is filled with a sense of inno­va­tion and for­ward-think­ing. In the same way, it’s not just the North­ern Quar­ter and Ancoats that are mak­ing waves in the cre­ative sec­tor. Man­ches­ter is a city that’s full of hid­den gems and secret spots. From vibrant bars and restau­rants to music venues, the place rip­ples with ener­gy from the heart of the city-cen­tre out. There’s always some­thing new to dis­cov­er and explore wher­ev­er you go.

A glob­al force in the music world

And we can’t talk about Man­ches­ter’s cre­ative scene with­out men­tion­ing the music. From The Haçien­da and the Mad­ch­ester days to the cur­rent crop of up-and-com­ing bands and musi­cians, Man­ches­ter has always been a city that’s been at the fore­front of music. But it’s not just the music that’s thriv­ing. The city’s the­atre and per­form­ing arts are­na is also going from strength to strength, with a host of world-class venues and pro­duc­tions to choose from.

Cre­ative ener­gy is noth­ing new for Man­ches­ter. Man­ches­ter has always been a city that embraces the new and the dif­fer­ent. The city has always had a rich his­to­ry of fos­ter­ing cre­ativ­i­ty, from the leg­endary Haçien­da night­club in the 80s and 90s, which helped launch the careers of acts like Hap­py Mon­days and New Order, to the vibrant music with that Man­ches­ter twist and sig­na­ture sound that con­tin­ues to thrive to this day. The Haçien­da was the epi­cen­tre of the city’s musi­cal rev­o­lu­tion, a place where peo­ple could come togeth­er and expe­ri­ence some­thing mean­ing­ful and unique, help­ing to estab­lish Man­ches­ter as a city that cel­e­brates the alternative.

Man­ches­ter has always been syn­ony­mous with being a musi­cal glob­al force, a breed­ing ground for great bands. From Oasis to The Stone Ros­es, The Chem­i­cal Broth­ers to The 1975, the city has pro­duced some of the biggest and most influ­en­tial bands of the last few decades.

The city’s nightlife has always been leg­endary and con­tin­ues to be so today. From those Haç days to the cur­rent crop of bars and clubs, it’s has always been a place where peo­ple can let their hair down and have a good time. But it’s not just about the nightlife. And it’s not just music. Man­ches­ter has a rich cul­tur­al her­itage, with an arts scene on the rise, includ­ing every­thing from the­atre to dance to visu­al art. Gal­leries like the Man­ches­ter Art Gallery and the Whit­worth Art Gallery show­case some of the most excit­ing con­tem­po­rary art from around the world.

Man­ches­ter’s always been push­ing the bound­aries of cre­ativ­i­ty. There’s also a thriv­ing fash­ion world, with design­ers like Katharine Ham­nett, Paul Smith, and Vivi­enne West­wood all hav­ing a strong con­nec­tion to the city. 

Dif­fer­ent day, same no-shit attitude

Anoth­er thing that sets Man­ches­ter apart from oth­er cre­ative hubs is its unpre­ten­tious, no-bull­shit atti­tude. Unlike Lon­don or New York, where suc­cess is often mea­sured by the size of one’s pay­check or the pres­tige of one’s clients, in Man­ches­ter, it’s all about the work. The city’s cre­ative com­mu­ni­ty is made up of peo­ple who are pas­sion­ate about their craft and aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.

This down-to-earth approach is reflect­ed in the way Man­ches­ter’s busi­ness­es oper­ate. Local com­pa­nies are more like­ly to be focused on cre­at­ing mean­ing­ful, long-term rela­tion­ships with their clients, rather than just try­ing to make a quick buck. And they’re more like­ly to be staffed by peo­ple who care about the com­mu­ni­ty they work in, rather than just chas­ing the next big project and clear­ing the present one off the decks as quick­ly as possible.

Of course, Man­ches­ter isn’t per­fect. There are still plen­ty of issues to be addressed, from the city’s pover­ty rates to the ongo­ing prob­lem of home­less­ness. But the fact that these prob­lems exist only makes the cre­ative com­mu­ni­ty’s efforts to make a dif­fer­ence all the more vital.

What makes Man­ches­ter such a haven for the cre­ative community?

So, why has Man­ches­ter become such a haven for cre­ative com­mu­ni­ties? Well, we reck­on it’s down to a com­bi­na­tion of things.

1. The city has a unique spir­it that’s hard to resist. It’s a place where peo­ple can be them­selves and express them­selves in new and excit­ing ways. There’s a sense of free­dom and accep­tance here that you don’t find in many oth­er places. We’re a city that’s always been full of char­ac­ter and spir­it. We’re not afraid to be dif­fer­ent, not afraid to call it how we see it, and we’re not afraid to take risks. And that’s some­thing that’s always been attrac­tive to cre­ative minds.

2. Man­ches­ter has a strong sense of com­mu­ni­ty. The city is home to a diverse group of peo­ple from all walks of life, and there’s a prop­er sense of cama­raderie here. Per­haps the biggest rea­son Man­ches­ter has become a utopia for cre­ative com­mu­ni­ties is it’s a city that’s always been will­ing to sup­port its own. Peo­ple look out for each oth­er and are always will­ing to lend a hand. There’s a strong sense of com­mu­ni­ty, and it’s this sense of belong­ing that makes the city so spe­cial. It’s a city where there’s a sol­i­dar­i­ty that’s allowed cre­atives to thrive.

3. We’re a city that’s always been open and wel­com­ing to new ideas and new peo­ple. We’re a melt­ing pot of dif­fer­ent cul­tures and back­grounds, and that diver­si­ty is what makes our city so spe­cial. Man­ches­ter has always been a city that’s been open to new ideas and influ­ences. It’s a city that’s always been will­ing to embrace change and evo­lu­tion, with the Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion in its DNA. This open-mind­ed­ness has allowed Man­ches­ter to absorb new cul­tures and styles, and it’s this that makes the city so excit­ing and dynamic.

4. Man­ches­ter has a long his­to­ry of sup­port­ing the arts and cre­ative indus­tries. The city recog­nis­es the val­ue the cre­ative sec­tor gives back to our com­mu­ni­ty in spades in terms of busi­ness and jobs, as well as those abstracts like gen­er­al well­be­ing from being a part of an ener­getic, bustling cul­ture and all the fruits of cre­ative out­lets bring to every­day peo­ple. The city has a num­ber of excel­lent art schools, and there are sev­er­al organ­i­sa­tions that pro­vide fund­ing and sup­port for artists and designers.

5. We’re a city that’s full of pas­sion and ener­gy in push­ing bound­aries. Whether it’s the pas­sion of the foot­ball fans, the pas­sion of the musi­cians, or the pas­sion of the local busi­ness own­ers, there’s always some­thing hap­pen­ing in Man­ches­ter. And that’s what makes it such a vibrant and excit­ing place to be. Borne in inno­va­tion, Man­ches­ter has always been a city that’s not afraid to do things its own way. It’s a city that’s always been will­ing to chal­lenge the sta­tus quo and push bound­aries. This spir­it of rebel­lion and non­con­for­mi­ty is some­thing that’s always attract­ed cre­ative minds.

Man­ches­ter is grow­ing up for all the right reasons

So, there you have it. Man­ches­ter is grow­ing up, but it’s still the same old Man­ches­ter that we know and love. A city that’s full of char­ac­ter, spir­it, and ener­gy. A city that’s always open to new ideas and new peo­ple. A city that’s a haven for cre­ative com­mu­ni­ties. And that’s why we’re proud to call it home.

With its bohemi­an neigh­bour­hoods, rich cul­tur­al her­itage, and a strong sense of com­mu­ni­ty, it’s no won­der that so many cre­ative agen­cies and busi­ness­es, as well as artists, design­ers, and musi­cians, are choos­ing to call it home. It’s a city that cel­e­brates the new and the dif­fer­ent, and it’s a place where peo­ple can be them­selves and express them­selves in new and excit­ing ways. So, if you’re look­ing for a place to be cre­ative, look no fur­ther than Manchester.

But we know some of you might be think­ing, Hold on a minute, what hap­pened to the good old days? The days of The Haçien­da and the Mad­ch­ester music scene? The days when Man­ches­ter was known for its grit­ty, under­ground cre­ative energy?”

Well, we’ll tell you what hap­pened. It still has all that. But Man­ches­ter grew up. And just like any grown-up, we’ve evolved and changed and expand­ed what we have to offer, but we’ve also retained that unique spir­it and ener­gy that makes us so spe­cial. The city’s still got its heart in the right place. So, let’s raise a Man­ches­ter ale to the city that’s giv­en us so much, and let’s keep push­ing for­ward, together. 

So, who gives a shit of Man­ches­ter isn’t the place it used to be? Things change. What mat­ters the city’s spir­it of unbri­dled cre­ativ­i­ty is alive and kick­ing, and it’s only get­ting better. 

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