Kraak, 11 Stephenson Square, Manchester, M1 1DB – Visit Now
Kraak is now permanently closed but the team have opened Aatma just across the alley.
Manchester’s northern quarter is renowned for its offbeat enterprises. Many are hidden away in the area’s shady side streets, where there’s always some small adventure in venturing. As one of those places, KRAAK (pronounced “crack”) is appropriately named; you have to slip into the gap between buildings to find it. Tucked down a narrow cobbled alleyway off Little Lever Street, which joins Stevenson Square, its location is given away only by a smattering of posters on the brick walls outside and two separate doors. Up the steep stairs through one door is KRAAK’s gallery. The venue as a whole aims to provide a focal point for Manchester’s underground arts scene, offering a site for local artists to exchange their work and for an audience to discover it. Salvaged from its previous life as a textile warehouse, KRAAK rejects the impersonal nature of larger galleries, adapting instead to its users’ needs and personalities. The gallery is an affordable, versatile exhibition space, used as a photography studio between shows. Just across the alleyway, the second door leads to a renovated loft, which serves as KRAAK’s event venue. It can fit up to 200 sweaty bodies on a busy evening, with regular live performances and club nights that mix drunken dancing with a more reflective experience. The very best occasions, of course, offer a combination of the two.