Manchester Histories Festival (Wednesday 8 June to Sunday 12 June) is bringing communities, individuals, cultural organisations, education institutes and charities together in a way that has never been done before in the region to explore the history of climate change and its future path. This theme will lead the five day festival in which most of the events are FREE and take place at venues across Greater Manchester.
As the birthplace of the industrial revolution it is apt that this most radical and change making of regions should host a festival about climate change. It will do so with a series of ambitious, bold and challenging events. Exhibitions, performances, author talks, workshops and talks all await discovery.
An exploration of the past, an understanding of where we are today and a desire to seek solutions are some of the threads that run through the Manchester Histories Festival. The packed programme makes its home in venues that include Manchester Central Library, Gallery Oldham, Angel Meadow Park and The Monastery Manchester.
Karen Shannon, CEO of Manchester Histories, says, “It feels wonderful to be bringing a full scale Manchester Histories Festival to life once again. In many ways the last couple of years has brought people closer together and it is only by continuing this in our approach to climate change that we are going to make the progress needed. Our aim is to share learnings and insight from the past, to bring people together to ask questions and seek solutions, and to collectively look to the future. We will be doing this with an exciting programme of events full of different and creative ways of exploring climate change.”
Opening Night – Wednesday 8 June
The Monastery Manchester, one of the city’s most iconic buildings and recognised as EW Pugin’s greatest architectural masterpiece, is the location for the 2022 festival’s Opening Night. This is the chance to meet the festival team, volunteers and contributors and to find out more about what’s taking place. Historian and broadcaster Michael Wood will set the scene with performances from young people responding to climate change and music from Manchester International Roots Orchestra. Tickets are free and can be booked here.
Creative explorations of Climate Change
Climate change and creativity combine throughout the festival. On Saturday 11 June at Manchester Central Library there is a chance to Create Your Own Climate Cartoon working with professional cartoonist Polyp and Too Much of Water brings the issues closer to home, with a one-man storytelling performance that uses simple props to create a living map to explore the community response to the Boxing Day floods of 2015. And throughout the same day at Manchester Central Library YoCLI: Young Climate Imaginaries will imagine a climate change future and in doing so welcomes doodles, drawings, stories, lyrics and pictures to create this vision in an interactive performance.
10 Years to Save the World: Comic Arts Exhibition (6 to 30 June) takes place at Wythenshaw Library featuring an anthology of 10 comics that represent each of the ten years left to save the world. Also making an appearance is the Climate Change Myth Buster; an interactive performance installation from arts organisation Walk the Plank. It will be engaging people in conversation at Angel Meadow Park on Saturday 11 June.
At Gallery Oldham there are two exhibitions, both intending to remind us of the fragility and beauty to behold in nature. 10 Years of British Wildlife Photography Awards (until Saturday 3 September) is a retrospective featuring the very best in wildlife photography and The Nature Table: Work by Sheila Tilmouth takes a microscopic view of the hidden worlds all around us in stunning miniature form.
Climate Change – from the past to the future
There is so much history to draw upon and take influence from within the region. Dr Aditya Ramesh and Dr Jenna Ashton will give a fascinating insight into how Manchester’s vast empire of cotton, Cottonopolis, created an imprint across the British colonial world the global legacy of which lives on today in a talk, Cottonopolis: Lessons for Environmental Science from Manchester, on 10 June at Manchester Central Library. Guiding us even further back author Brian Groom will be taking people on a journey in an illustrated talk, Northerners: A History from the Ice Age to the Present Day, on Thursday 9 June at Manchester Central Library. The long view is also one taken by Gallery Oldham’s Natural History Curator on Saturday 11 June; Climate Change Then and Now is a talk that begins with the gallery’s collection of fossils and moves through to different species and habitats.
Looking to the future The Wicked Problem takes place on Thursday 9 June in Manchester Central Library and asks the question ‘What would you put first, the planet or your family?’ Set in 2061 the audience will act as jury when a climate law, created by the authoritarian green government, is broken. For those who are to come also plots the future. This exhibition of the Amazonia takes place at Manchester Central Library (Wolfson Reading Room) until Saturday 18 June. Having first appeared at COP26 it uses photographs to highlight the changes to this region and the importance of keeping this ecosystem alive for the future. And in Taking Action to Ensure We Have a History, Just Stop Oil’s Zoe Cohen will share climate reality and talk about the need for mass nonviolent civil disobedience if there is to be a hope of achieving the scale and pace of change that is needed on Saturday 11 June at Manchester Central Library.
Angel Meadow Park – Saturday 11 June
Angel Meadow and the poor, polluted conditions that prevailed in this area during the industrial revolution make it the fitting location for a day of community gathering and shared experiences. From 11am to 8pm (free entry and no booking needed) on Saturday 11 June the park will be full of food stalls, live music and Family Friendly activities. Tours of Angel Meadow will open a window on what was once described by Friedrich Engels as “Hell on Earth” and the transformation that has taken place to a green city space beloved by residents and visitors.
A spoken word set from Charlotte Peters-Rock, The Whole Damned World is a Family, song and story telling from Harp and a Monkey and music from singer-songwriter and storyteller Emmanuela Yogolelo, Tales From The Congo Basin, will fill the space with thought-provoking performances. Food will also come under the spotlight with cookery demonstrations from the Vegetarian Society Cookery School followed by a talk by CEO Richard McIlwain on The History of Vegetarianism and its Future. This is followed by a Q&A lead by Carolyn Steel addressing Sitopia: How Food Can Save the World.
Celebration Day at The Monastery Manchester – Sunday 12 June
Manchester Histories is renowned for the way in which it connects history to the present and encourages community exploration. In no way is the work of the charity more evident than in Celebration Day, a much-loved part of all of its festivals, that this year will take place on Sunday 12 June (11am to 4pm, free entry and no booking needed) with more than 50 stalls representing museums, heritage buildings, archives and societies taking their place at The Monastery Manchester. This Grade II masterpiece is the backdrop for a day of Family Friendly activities that includes creative workshops, musical performances and even a pop-up museum courtesy of Manchester Museum. The A to Z of stall holders features everyone from Alexandra Park Heritage Group to Working Class Movement Library.
The full programme of events is available on the Manchester Histories festival here. All the events taking place at Manchester Central Library (9, 10, 11 June) can be booked in advance here and Opening Night tickets (8 June) can be booked here. Advance booking is not needed for Angel Meadow Park activities (11 June) or Celebration Day (12 June).