Doing things differently: contested identity across Manchester's arts cultural quarters.

Atkinson, Peter James orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8638-9808 (2020) Doing things differently: contested identity across Manchester's arts cultural quarters. In: Developing a Sense of Place: The Role of the Arts in Regenerating Communities. UCL Press, London, UK, pp. 227-239. ISBN 978-1-78735-782 2

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Observation is made of the contrast in arts cultural quarters of Manchester: the bohemian 'Northern Quarter', with its unofficial arts and independent traders, and the legitimised, and the increasingly commodified, official¬¬ arts and cultural provision in the environment of the South, South West quarter of the city core. The latter has formed organically through the geographical interrelation of key cultural institutions: museums; art galleries; libraries; broadcasting institutions; a conference centre; theatres, music venues and an arts cinema. The modern mythology of the Wilsonian Manchester pop culture, and of ‘doing things differently’ is rooted here and now supports commodification of the area. Here the new £120m Factory arts performance space be built to house the biannual Manchester International Festival. In this official zone commodification of arts and culture and gentrification are leading to selective usage and consumption and pricing now proves prohibitive for many people.

Contrastingly, the Northern Quarter houses a community of artists, cultural providers and mainly independent retailers and the area retains a bohemian and creative character. This is reflected in both the nature of the independent retail outlets and arts facilities, and in the creative artwork that adorns some of the buildings in the area. Increasingly, though, rising rents and the threat of property development in the Northern Quarter will increasingly force arts providers who lack funding, and also independent retailers, out of the area. We observe the vibrancy of the Manchester arts culture, but note these contested identities and the threat posed to smaller arts organisations by large-scale speculative property development.

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