Hidden heritage of iconic Manchester music venue Band on the Wall to be revealed thanks to £1.4 million from the National Lottery

Photo: Hidden heritage of iconic Manchester music venue Band on the Wall to be revealed thanks to £1.4 million from the National Lottery

Thanks to a £1.4m from the National Lottery, Band on the Wall is set to expand, host a wider range of events and unveil the musical heritage of the city’s migrant communities.

Inner City Music Limited, the charity that owns and operates the multi award-winning music venue, will reopen the Victorian Cocozza building at the rear of the venue and uncover the social and musical history of the two buildings and the local Northern Quarter and Ancoats neighbourhoods.

Designed by Manchester-based OMI Architects and managed by specialist project managers Buro Four the expansion plans will see the main venue capacity increased from 340 to 520; new flexible studio classroom and rehearsal spaces; a second 80-capacity venue for live music and film screenings; and digital displays with short films celebrating the history of the Northern Quarter and its communities. There will also be a programme of events for the community, rooted in the music and culture of Manchester’s migrant histories, inspiring the public to learn and develop new skills.

The project will secure Band on the Wall for the next generation, enabling future musicians to learn and perform.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “The strong musical traditions of the city of Manchester are well-known the world over, and Band on the Wall is no exception. Thanks to National Lottery funding, this award-winning venue can continue to build on its already rich heritage by being able to welcome even more gig-goers through its doors, and also allow the community to explore some of the hidden gems of the city’s multicultural musical heritage.”

Sir Richard Leese, Leader, Manchester City Council said: “Manchester is famous the world over for its musical heritage, and Band on the Wall has been at the centre of it for well over a century. It is an honour to see the venue continue to thrive and drive forward the great creative force of the city, inspiring the next generation of artists along the way.”

While the venue is renowned for its pivotal role in kickstarting the careers of some of the city’s most famous homegrown talent, its location means that there is a wealth of history relating to the musical traditions of the migrant communities who have called Ancoats and the Northern Quarter their home.

The Bigger, Better, Stronger project will bring these stories to the fore, and celebrate the impact music has had on the development of Manchester’s diverse communities for over 200 years.

Gavin Sharp, CEO, Inner City Music said: “We are incredibly excited to be starting this new project and taking the Band on the Wall venue into its next phase of what is already a 200 year history. As custodians of this piece of Manchester’s heritage we continue to look forward to celebrating not only the history of our home venue, but also the strong and vibrant musical heritage of all of Manchester’s communities. Manchester is a city of migrants, whether from rural England, Ireland or across the world and as people have travelled here to work they have brought amazing culture which Mancunians have embraced. Band on the Wall represents an important part of Manchester’s aspiration to become a truly global, outward-looking city and we are incredibly pleased that this has been recognised by all the supporters and funders of the project.”

This news story was featured in Insider Media and Place North West.