Culture briefing Manchester: Spring 2012

Kate Feld

Have you been keeping up? Stay up to date with our round-up of Manchester’s cultural happenings.

An artist's rendering of the new Chetham's School of Music building

Cue jubilant chorus: Chetham’s School of Music has just opened its new home, a spanking new £31 million brick building designed by Roger Stephenson (pictured above). The rather cool-looking building features a 100-seat recital hall, a bridge between the new and old buildings across the river Irk and, as you can imagine, lots and lots of soundproof practice rooms. A planned second phase of work will complete a 400-seat concert hall on the site, meaning us already blessed Mancunian music lovers could soon become even more spoiled.

And while we’re in the neighbourhood, good news from across Cathedral Gardens: The National Football Museum is officially opening in the iconic Urbis building July 6. NFM has launched a spiffy new website too – take a look. NFM’s arrival will make the city home to four national museums, now that the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) has merged with the National Museum of Science and Industry. New MOSI Director Jean Franczyk has announced plans to open up new areas of MOSI to the public and revitalise the museum’s events programme; we’ll keep you posted.

Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre Company have officially merged ahead of their move to a new purpose-built arts centre at the First Street Development off Whitworth Street West. The new arts centre (with five screens and two theatres, dontcha know) is set to open in 2014, which will be a corker of a year for us culturehounds in Manchester. That’s also when the fully refurbished Central Library opens its doors, along with a shiny new Whitworth Art Gallery extension that will open it up to the great outdoors of Whitworth Park. Arty picnics? We get all excited just thinking about it.

Speaking of outdoor spaces: It seems like such an important, established part of the city that it’s sometimes hard to remember just how bold a move it was when The Lowry and Imperial War Museum North opened in the quiet, post-industrial surroundings of The Quays. But more than a decade later it’s anything but quiet round there, especially since the arrival of The BBC and MediaCityUK and the creation of a stunning, futuristic outdoor public space. The Quays is shaping up to be a kind of South Bank for the North, with arty events, festivals and happenings along the waterfront. Next month things get rolling with Looping the Loop, a day of performances, live art and community events that is the North West’s opening event for London 2012. Might see you there.

Words: Kate Feld; Image: courtesy Chetham’s School of Music.

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