Manchester City Council

Sketches from a Train

On the 15.08 from Newcastle to Liverpool ( though I'm planning to get off at Victoria ) returning from a meeting of the North Area Arts Council of which I am a member and which has inspired me to share some musings on Manchester, arts and design. Last week was a particularly interesting one from the culture point of view.

On Tuesday, Giselle, Manchester International Festival's co-commissioned ballet choreographed by Akram Khan, premiered at the Palace Theatre to rave reviews from as far away as New York. I thought it was astonishing. The two people sat next to me had never been to a ballet before but are definitely going again, and on the tram home I met Rishi Shori, Leader of Bury, and his partner, who had also never been to ballet before but will also be going again. Says it all.

On Friday and Saturday, the board of the British Museum met in Manchester, largely as a result of a partnership with the Manchester Museum where they are working together to develop a new building and a new South Asia gallery. This will be unique in the U.K's museum world, will give us an asset that will reflect the history of a significant part of our population, and will draw thousands of visitors to the city and to what is already a fantastically successful museum.

In between I attended the launch of Design Manchester. This festival, supported by the City Council and only in its fourth year, has already grown to be an event of international significance, and reflects the importance Manchester has placed on design at least since the ground-breaking guide to development in Hulme in the early Nineteen nineties.

Of course some elements of design are very subjective in nature, beauty in the eye of the beholder and all that. We've seen that in the debate over Tadao Ando's pavilion in Piccadilly Gardens and now in the debate over the designs for the St Michaels scheme on Bootle Street/Lloyd Street.

People will like it or they won't but I've heard some pretty silly arguments, not least that the development would somehow overshadow the Town Hall. The only really good views of the Town Hall are from Albert Square or along Brazenose Street and when you're looking at the Town Hall from these locations you wouldn't be able to see the new development, and if you're looking at the proposed development you can't see the Town Hall. Think some people just don't like tall buildings.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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