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Manchester Wire: Going out and goings-on in the rainy city

So while I continue to take a break from blogging here, I’ve started a new project: ‘Manchester Wire is a website that hopes to keep you informed about the best things Manchester and the surrounding area has to offer.’ It’s edited by Ruth Allan and myself, with writing by us and a crack team of contributors, and we’re aiming to build it up in to a practical and pretty comprehensive resource for events and developments in the city.

Since soft-launching last Friday, we’ve featured gig and club previews, theatre reviews, art festivals, exhibition and venue openings – plus some of the more underground happenings in Manchesters, such as a Subbuteo club and a zine library.

Take a look at – we’re keen to hear what you think, and about what you think we should be covering. We’re also on Twitter (@mcrwire) and Facebook.

The Manchester Weekender 2010

We’re little over a week away from the debut outing of the Manchester Weekender, a collection of ‘the best of Manchester’s art and culture’. From 1-3 October, for 48 hours, the city showcases itself through an unmanageably large number of events. I thought, therefore, it might be helpful to pick some personal highlights direct from the programme:

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer at Manchester Art Gallery. A major new exhibition of interactive digital artworks by Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, including the world premiere of a large-scale installation People on People, a co-commission with AND festival. The Gallery hosts an evening of live electronica by Marconi Union alongside what’s being billed as ‘interactive activity’ from Lewis Sykes in its glass-roofed atrium.

Un-convention is one of the UK’s most eclectic independent music industry events containing much for those who just love (rather than work in) new music. Employing such unconventional spaces as a barge, Salford Lads’ Club and a church, featuring Bill Drummond, Jarvis Cocker, Jon McClure, Brian Travers and Kevin Cummins – all doing ‘interesting things in the most unexplored places in the city’ – with a travelling circus, music photography projected onto buildings, Colombian Hip Hop, Jah Wobble, the BBC Philharmonic and a brass band as well.

Contemporary Cartography //01 is a pocket map that provides an overview of what makes up the creative ecology of the city (via its contemporary galleries and underground art spaces) and, to celebrate its launch, there are a number of Contemporary Cartography Tours. The map coincides with the launch of Creative Tourist’s new iPhone app. – a guide to the art and culture of Manchester.

See Manchester by water where a family boat party connects the Manchester Ship Canal with the River Irwell and puts food by one of the Northwest’s top chefs, Robert Owen Brown, on the menu.

Hidden Manchester is a very special, secret tour to one of the city’s most spectacular, but rarely seen by the public, buildings created and led by the city’s most popular guide, the broadcaster and historian Jonathan Schofield, especially for the Manchester Weekender.

You can pick your own highlights, or read more about the above events, in Creative Tourist’s Weekender guide. There’s also a pdf guide to the Manchester Weekender.

Which are the best Beards of Manchester?

So you may or may not have noticed that Manchester is a particularly beardy city. Perhaps it’s the cold weather? Whatever the reason, what better way of acknowledging it than by launching a charity calendar?

Beards of Manchester is a calendar featuring the city and some of its hairiest inhabitants. We need 12 magnificent beards for the 2011 calendar, which will be sold at various outlets in Manchester. If you think your beard deserves its own calendar page, snap a picture and send it to by Friday 24 September. We will upload all photos to the beard gallery and invite the best beards (and their owners) to a photo shoot with Manchester-based photographer Gill Moore.

The calendar launches on Thursday 21 October with an exhibition at Common on Edge Street. All profits of the calendar sales go to the Lifeshare charity, which supports homeless people in Manchester and Salford.

With the deadline for submissions just 10 days away, now’s the time to send yours in – or encourage impressively bearded friends, neighbours, family members and colleagues to do so. You and they will join the likes of comedian Justin Moorhouse in the beard gallery and have a chance of being Mr October.

You can follow @BeardsOfMcr on Twitter or ‘like’ the project on the Beards of Manchester Facebook page.

Last chance to see…

It seems that June is the time for things to end in Manchester. First up, a couple of exhibitions that conclude this coming Sunday, 13 June:

Don McCullin: Shaped by War

At the Imperial War Museum North, photographer Don McCullin currently has a major retrospective called Shaped by War. The 75-year-old, not to be confused with Manchester’s own Don McPhee, is best known for his war-time coverage – and in fact in 1968 his Nikon camera stopped a bullet intended for him. The exhibition’s free, and if you fancy doing some pre-visit research, check out the q&a, preview and video interview on

Then at Mosi, it’s the final weekend of Da Vinci – The Genius, which has been running since November last year. One of the major parts of this exhibition is Secrets of Mona Lisa, containing ’25 startling revelations’ about his most famous work – and that’s just one of over 200 items on show. Admission here is £7.50 for adults and £5 for concessions, and unless the exhibition’s final weekend is over-run with visitors, you should be able to buy from the Mosi box office on the day.

If you’re after something a bit more… live, this month is also your last chance to see Manchester’s Library Theatre in its current form. Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest was the first ever production in the theatre way back in 1952 – and it’s also going to be the last. The library is closing for a major overhaul from July, with the Library Theatre Company relocating to Peter Street’s Theatre Royal in 2012. The Grade II listed building, which is Manchester’s oldest surviving theatre building, dating back to 1845, has previously been the Royal Cinema and Royal Bingo, and until recently was a particularly unregal nightclub. Glad to see it’s finally being restored to (hopefully) its former glory.

Photo: Auditorium of the Theatre Royal in 1980 while being used for bingo. Courtesy of Ted Bottle