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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

MANCHESTER INDEPENDENTS Celebrating Greater Manchester Artists

Filmmaker Parvez Qadir is 'Proud to be in my small way part of Manchester Independents with my new commission 'Stories We Tell'.

He put me in touch with Jodie Ratcliffe, producer on this new outdoor site-specific show to be held in the Deeplish area of Rochdale. Collecting stories from the residents and then using binaural recordings and projection mapping for a late October showing 2021.

Jodie introduced me to Manchester Independents, a project that brings hope to and shining a bright light on. A huge boost to creatives as we peer nervously out of the Covid-19 tunnel!

The challenge of the past 18 months has seen Greater Manchester’s cultural sector come together in a unique show of collectivism – to date GM-ArtistHub, Manchester Cultural Education Partnership and, most visibly #HereForCultureMCR.

Manchester Independents is the newest addition to the line-up – an initiative to celebrate and spotlight new work made in Greater Manchester since March 2020 and to reflect the enormous diversity of art and artists living and working here.

Dave Moutrey, Director of Culture for Manchester said of Manchester Independents: "The range and quality of independent arts across Greater Manchester creates a unique creative ecology that is important both locally and nationally. That is why it is a joy to see many of the individuals and organisations that make up this ecology working together to make and present an exciting programme of artists led work which is a testament to their resilience and creativity."

Supported by cash and so many other in-kind resources from cultural organisations, public and private, the project is two pronged – an open call for projects needing financial support; and a call for other artists who are making work independently to join the initiative, all of which is showcased on a web portal highlighting the range of independent work taking place June-October 2021.

The open call in April saw 207 extraordinary proposals in music, dance, theatre, live art, literature, visual art, video and work that crosses all those boundaries. This was to be art selected by artists; and the artist-led panel had the invidious task of whittling down to a final list of 23 independent artist projects to support – from first time practitioners to award-winners, solo artists to a 30 piece orchestra.

One of the artist panellists, choreographer and director Edenamiuki Aiguobasinmwin, says of the initiative; “It’s a hub by artists for artists, a central space to gain support to develop practices and connect with networks of venues and mentors. A resource hub that has the prospect of attracting and retaining Greater Manchester's Independent artists. A bridge to understanding what's happening in Manchester, and a vision that pushes to better understand how to work with artists in all elements.”

The resulting programme will bring together a vast range of work spread across Greater Manchester – City Centre choral works, Hip Hop in Heaton Park, Museum takeovers and Library phone-ins – as well as gallery and theatre based projects. There’s an exploration of green space at the edge of our cities, a flatpack home puppet theatre, published stories by new writers and even a Family Vogue Ball. The work is relevant, current, driven by our times – from broken families to decolonisation, gender dysphoria to disabled superheroes, tales of immigration and mothers’ chronicles of pandemic isolation. Check Manchester Independents for the progress of these new works and how you can experience them as they develop.

The second phase of the project is now underway – a call to join the online showcase – so if you are an independent artist or company working on a new project to take place publicly between now and October 31st 2021, you are invited to join Manchester Independents. Work can be presented at venues, physical sites across Greater Manchester, in print or online. All work will be listed on its own profile page on Manchester Independents bringing work together and offering audiences a signpost to the wealth of creativity happening across Greater Manchester. Click here to join.

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