Umlaut logo

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. 

Let’s work together.

Let’s have a chat about your project.

Get in touch

Find out more about us