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£25m Art Centre Set to boost Manchester Culture Scene

Home, the new £25m arts Manchester centre that’s due to open next month, is being touted as the counterpart to Southbank Centre or Barbican.

Given the amount of money being spent on other city venues, is Manchester about to rival London when it comes to culture? The curved glass wedge built opposite the old Hacienda Club site will have its opening ceremony led by Danny Boyle. With five cinemas, two theatres, and an art gallery, its presence is the most recent evidence of increased building activity in Manchester’s cultural scene.

The wedge will replace the Library Theatre and Cornerhouse cinema, which have merged and been upgraded.

The launch of Home comes three months after the reopening of the Whitworth gallery, which underwent a £19m expansion. There are also plans in place for a new venue called The Factory, which has £78m invested in it and will be situated within a mile of Home.

If the Factory ends up being completed -the winner of the general election may be a deciding factor- the 5,000-capacity building will permanently host the Manchester International Festival.

Projects like these give Manchester residents reason to believe that the city’s cultural future can be as illustrious as its past.

Home chief executive Dave Moutrey is looking forward to replacing the old Cornerhouse. He says that there are ample toilets in the new location as well as outdoor seating and an overall smoother layout.

Mr Moutrey assures future customers that they will be able to read film subtitles without having to keep peering around someone’s head. Home will also provide space for Manchester’s enthusiasm for new ideas.

The theatre productions, visual art displays, and films will all be contemporary, thought-provoking, and internationally appealing while retaining a strong Manchester flavour.

The opening lineup will include Simon Stephens, Stockport playwright, who has adapted a 1932 Odon von Horvath play, an art exhibition with artists from Kosovo, Iceland, and Egypt as well as Manchester, and screenings of funfair-themed films.
Home was conceived by Manchester City Council, which hoped that it would improve the economy by attracting other businesses to its area. Moutry says that certain offices, restaurants, and a hotel have moved in because of Home.

Jason Wood, Home’s new artistic director for film, moved to Manchester from Curzon Cinemas in London. He says that the found the capital’s independent film scene becoming stagnant and found the cultural expansion in Manchester appealing.

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Walter Meierjohann, artistic director of theatre, also came from London. He still believes that London will be the UK’s number one cultural centre, but Manchester is definitely headed in the right direction.

There have been recent cultural developments in other UK cities: the Everyman theatre in Liverpool, the Birmingham library, and the new arts centre in Bangor, North Wales.Other UK cities have also seen recent cultural developments - Birmingham has its library, Liverpool has the new Everyman theatre, and a new arts centre in Bangor, north Wales, will cost twice as much as Home.

But the expansion currently taking place in Greater Manchester, combined with first-class existing venues, indicate that it will have a cultural presence unparalleled outside London. It is also being positioned as the capital of the “Northern Powerhouse” so eagerly promoted by the last government.

The third artistic director at Home is Sarah Perks, who did visual art work at Cornerhouse. She feels that Manchester shouldn't be compared with London.

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