Image credit: Jody Hartley

One year on since Band on The Wall reopened after a £3.5 million refurbishment, the iconic music venue has unveiled a new digital art installation on the rear of the building. The work features a specially commissioned short film exploring 200 years of Manchester’s music and social history. This marks the official completion of the building’s recent renovation.

The impressive public realm installation features three large-scale screens presenting film footage directed by renowned interdisciplinary graphic designer Malcolm Garrett. Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the piece is a celebration of Manchester’s many migrant communities and their music, spanning the last 200 years. The new installation will be lit up every evening and overlooks the city.

The film covers three main themes using footage from Manchester Library’s archive Broadside collection, telling the early story of the Swan Street area around Band on the Wall, the Smithfield Market area, and the George and Dragon pub, which later became Band on the Wall.

Image credit: Jody Hartley

The start of the film details this corner of the Northern Quarter depicting its forgotten history and shining a light on the migrant communities who settled in the area. It includes fascinating anecdotal stories about what was a bohemian neighbourhood in the midst of the Industrial Revolution.

Part two progresses into the 20th century around the theme ‘Workers of the World Unite’. Depicting how the Northern Quarter and the neighbouring Ancoats area evolved during this period, the film highlights how the influx of migrants accelerated the creation of a melting pot of cultures with a variety of commercial traders, cultural venues, religious venues and markets. This period showcases how Band on the Wall established itself as a hub for the social and cultural lives of Manchester residents during this period.

The final chapter is symbolic of the Mancunian collective spirit. Entitled ‘Regeneration and Re-birth’, the film explores the evolution of the Northern Quarter; celebrating the area’s incredible cultural past and present, and pays tribute to the role Band on the Wall has played in its development.

Band on the Wall continues to play a vital role in Manchester’s cultural identity. With support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, the Oglesby Foundation and Granada Foundation; the venue continues to nurture a hotbed of Manchester talent with local and grassroots projects. Its World of Music learning programme delivers community-based music and heritage learning which celebrates Manchester’s migrant communities and their musical legacies.

Since reopening in March 2022, Band on the Wall has continued to welcome artists from around the world to the venue, introducing new and diverse genres to the city. These include the likes of Los Angeles-based Sudan Archives, Malian collective Les Amazones d’Afrique and Congolese Afro-punk group Fulu Miziki.

The Malcolm Garrett-directed digital public realm installation will play out every evening following its launch on Tuesday 21st March on three large sale displays to the exterior of the venue. The films are free to enjoy by the general public.

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