Cornerhouse may have been a staple of Manchester counterculture for the past 25 years but HOME looks set to be the venue to take it into the future.
Relocating just down the way from their iconic Oxford Road haunt, HOME is a state-of-the-art space located somewhere so new they don’t quite have a name for it yet.
Regionality is at the heart of the project and their team make no qualms about showing it. While this culture-corner has yet to acquire a permanent nickname, their main hub sits on Tony Wilson Place; aptly harking back to a local hero who was all about promoting Northern talent.
HOME’s primary hub is huge and all encompassing. It’s part art-house cinema, part theatre, part art gallery and part-café, giving visitors the all-important opportunity to digest the content they’ll experience within its walls. The surrounding area, brand new with distinct Media City vibes, has been created to ensure creativity feels at home. There’s food, office space, parking and even student accommodation on offer in this modern creative-corridor.
When Creative England stop by for a visit, the venue looks freshly finished. There’s still a bit of tampering going on with the automatic doors and part of its clean, wooden decor looks recently nailed together. That said, we soon discover that HOME is very much alive and its plans for Manchester’s future are big.
“This is a Manchester story at the moment but it’s soon to be a story about the North,” explains HOME’s Director and Chief Executive Dave Moutrey. As he begins to outline the many features that can be found in his new building, Moutrey also makes a point of mentioning how crucial it is that art and culture are accessible to all, regardless of background.
Accessibility is built into the venue’s launch strategy, with its first string of film and theatre events offering low ticket prices and something to suit all ages. Moutrey also suggests that participation with local schools and youth groups will be key to HOME’s continued output. “I want HOME to be a people’s place and not a cultural palace,” he continues. “We won’t talk down or patronise people. I want people to think of HOME as an urban living room.”
Of course, HOME has a little more to offer than your average living room. In between Magda Archer’s trashy-chic art prints reflecting the absurd nature of our own throwaway culture (all part of the venue’s ‘Fun Fair’ debut programme), we find the venue’s five luxurious cinema screens. They vary in size, catering to everything from ballsy blockbusters to intimate indies and also have the ability to host live music and sumul-streams, making them perfectly suited for the digital age. What’s more, the venue’s Director of Film, Jason Wood, is keen for all to get involved, “We want our film programmes to engage, enthral and entertain,” he says, “we want them to be a dialogue.”
Their theatre space is equally impressive. In addition to housing an intimate room for rough and ready performances, HOME boasts a fully working theatre, complete with orchestra pit, two circles and a deep stage. All that may make the place sound airy but it’s surprisingly cosy. “No one is more than 10 meters away from the centre stage sweet spot,” says HOME’s Artistic Director for Theatre, Walter Meierjohann. The place is acoustically isolated and offers an ‘all-backgrounds’ ticket scheme with some shows costing as little as £5. “We want to create relationships with people,” adds Meierjohann. “You’re at home here.”
HOME’s gallery space is completely flexible (literally – its walls move) and again welcomes work with a regional flair. Their debut exhibition ‘The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things’ takes aim at our relationships and what we seem to hold dear in a society that’s perhaps a little too entwined with technology. It’s colourful, tongue-in-cheek and eye-opening and sets the tone well for type of thought provoking modern art HOME aims to showcase.
Our tour comes to a close with a brief appearance by Oscar winning director Danny Boyle who leaves us with a question – “Why is culture so important?”
Boyle suggests the answer lies in our ability and responsibility to question the way it’s presented to us and how it’s used, and to do that properly we need to be able to hear voices from all corners of our society.
Accessibility is key to understanding our ever-changing culture. In that sense, so is HOME.
- Creative Industries
- Creative England