Back in March, when this project was little more than an idea being developed by Manchester’s museums and galleries, I went along to the press launch of Manchester International Festival and waited to see what Alex Poots and co. had cooked up for this city of ours.
Towards the end, Jeremy Deller stood up to describe his new work. He looked nervous, and I knew why: sometimes Manchester can be the most welcoming of places but it can also be the most critical. Deller looked straight ahead, his eyes skimming over the assembled crowd, the bank of TV crews at the back, the photographers and journalists snapping and scribbling. ‘For me, for some time, all roads have been leading to Manchester,’ he said. ‘I have been so inspired by the industrial and, more recently, the musical history of the town.’
Deller was not the first to find inspiration on Manchester’s post-industrial streets, and he won’t be the last. This year alone, Antony and the Johnsons, Gustav Metzger, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson and Carlos Acosta have all presented new works here, or collaborated with unusual partners – Kraftwerk on the same bill as Steve Reich, for example. All are united in their fascination of this intriguing, infuriating, risen-from-the-ashes city.
And after the Festival ends, the culture continues. Angels of Anarchy at Manchester Art Gallery, for example, and the re-opening of the People’s History Museum –these are just two events planned for Manchester this Autumn. This is where we come in: Creativetourist will keep you posted of these and other cultural developments, and perhaps give you a reason for coming to Manchester join us now and again.
‘I have written more love songs to this city than I have to any woman,’ said Elbow’s lead singer, Guy Garvey, as, back at the Festival launch, he explained the band’s decision to stage what turned out to be two spectacular performances with the Hallé. ‘And this is our love song not just to Manchester but to all the people who come here for the Festival.’
So come to Manchester, then. Fall in love. You’ll find yourself in good company.
Susie Stubbs is the editor of Creativetourist, a new and collaborative project between nine museums and galleries in Manchester, the Northwest Regional Development Agency, Renaissance in the Regions and Visit Manchester. Susie writes a have-baby-will-travel blog, and has written for Time Out, The Guardian and The Independent.