Greater Manchester’s acclaimed United We Stream broadcasting platform has finished production on regular fundraising shows, having raised a staggering £477,000 for local charities and good causes.

United We Stream GM, which was launched on 3 April by Night-Time Economy Adviser Sacha Lord and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), has wrapped to focus on the recovery and reopening of the region’s night-time economy and cultural venues.

The regular production project has now ceased, but one off special events are being planned for the summer.

The streaming channel was created in swift response to the UK shutdown due to the coronavirus crisis, and during its 10-week run, the 22-strong team created 207 hours of broadcasting for 35 different productions.

The ethos for United We Stream GM was to fundraise by providing quality and diverse entertainment from established and breakthrough Greater Manchester-centric talent, while encouraging people to stay in their own homes during the pandemic.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “The success of United We Stream GM has surpassed our hopes. I cannot begin to say how pleased we are with the success of this fundraising project.

“To have reached the number of people we have, with brilliant content, production, social media and the Stay At Home message has been fantastic. We all love visiting our favourite music venues, bars and restaurants, and the money raised here will go some way to helping them stay alive and to be there when lockdown restrictions are lifted.

“I want to say a massive thank you to our Night-Time Economy Adviser, Sacha Lord, and the small but brilliant team behind the scenes who have produced and managed the United We Stream Greater Manchester platform. Most importantly, I want to say a very heartfelt thank you to every single person that has donated; not just the generosity and spirit of Greater Mancunians, but the supporters from all around the world!

“As well as helping our local night-time and creative industries, it’s great to have given funding for Nordoff Robbins, a national music therapy charity who have a base in Greater Manchester.

“From a Greater Manchester perspective, I’m thrilled that some of the money that has been raised will go towards fighting homelessness in the city-region, something I know all of us care about deeply here.”

Night-Time Economy Adviser Sacha Lord said: “When we went into lockdown, I was receiving so many calls, from people who work within the Night Time Economy, that the Government had simply left out to dry.

“At the same time, I was watching an initiative begin in Berlin that I thought could be replicated here.

“Within only a few days, Greater Manchester launched United We Stream GM. The idea was to entertain people during lockdown, to encourage them to stay at home, but also raise funds for many people who needed it.

“In all honesty, we didn’t know if anyone would watch it, never mind donate. 10 weeks later, it has to be one of the proudest moments of my career.

“I’d like to thank all the artists, everyone behind the camera, everyone who donated and of course Andy Burnham for letting it happen.”

he charities and good causes that have been supported by United We Stream GM are: the United We Stream Solidarity Fund, Save Our Scene, Nordoff Robbins, Greater Manchester Mayors Charity, Manchester Cladiators, Manchester Mind, Albert Kennedy Trust, St Johns Hospice, Lancashire Community Support Fund, NHS Charities Together, Eat Well MCR and LCR Cares.

United We Stream GM has had an astonishing global reach of 14.5 million people, who have seen their positive and informative social media announcements, and Public Health England led ‘stay at home’ messaging.

Performances have taken place in artist’s homes, gardens, from the Met Theatre in Bury or specially selected venues, with all performances adhering to government advice around isolating, distancing and infection control.

Over 7.5 million people worldwide have watched events, festivals, cookery, poetry, appearances, performances and DJ sets from 338 people including: Elbow, Manchester Camerata, Funkademia, Homoelectric, Gary Usher, Tony Walsh, Prima,  Manchester Survivors Choir, Peter Hook, Graeme Park, Slow Readers Club,  New Order, Lottery Winners, Roisin Murphy, DJ Woody, Black Madonna, The Killers, Doves, Northern Session Choir, Spice Girl Melanie C, Paul Oakenfold and Roger Sanchez as well as comedians Jon Richardson, Alan Carr, Jason Manford and Jack Whitehall.

In May over 100,000 viewers watching 42 members of the Manchester Survivor’s Choir for a socially distant performance of We’ll Meet Again with Coronation Street actress Catherine Tyldesley to mark the third anniversary of the Arena Attack.

The event was filmed with a drone on the piazza outside the BBC at MediaCityUK, and was followed by Spice Girl Melanie C DJ-ing pop and dance music anthems, and the choir enjoyed a private Zoom room which only they were in, to dance and enjoy the show together.

Also in May, United We Stream GM partnered with Mental Health festival Headstock and Manchester Mind to produce Headstock’ Moving Through The Silence’ which was a moving tribute event dedicated  Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, who took his own life 40 years ago.

Over 450,000 people watched the exclusive contributions by New Order, Elbow, Killers, Kodaline, Mark Lanegan from queens Of The Stone Age, Lottery Winners, Northern Session Choir ft. Iora and Maxine Peake and the show was featured twice in global iconic rock and roll publication, Rolling Stone.

In April United We Stream GM collaborated with XS Manchester to support the Manchester Cladiators.

The ‘Cladiators’ are a collective of hundreds of people living in the city centre, in high rise buildings, still with dangerous cladding on them. Lockdown has been hard for so many people who live in small spaces, but has been undoubtedly tougher for people with no private outdoor space, and living in fear because of the cladding.

The XS Manchester team set up a set of decks and a speaker outside a high rise apartment block in the city centre, which has dangerous cladding on it, and played uplifting indie anthems for the residents to enjoy and sing along to. This raised both funding and awareness of their cause.

The project finale of United We Stream GM was a DJ Battle between the two North West Metro Mayors; Greater Manchester’s Andy Burnham and Liverpool City Region’s Steve Rotheram.

They played an hour’s set each, spinning tracks from the ‘60s up to the present day and included plenty of classic Merseybeat and Madchester. Viewers declared Greater Manchester the best city, by voting on social media, and whilst making a donation on the United We Stream Just Giving page.

The United We Stream model was pioneered in Berlin by their Night Tsar Lutz Leichsenring, with Sacha working round the clock with his international counterparts and the GMCA to enable Greater Manchester to be the second city-region worldwide, and the first in the United Kingdom

Since then, United We Stream has launched in another 63 cities worldwide including:  Ho Chi Minh, Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, Paris, New York, Moscow, Bangkok, Dubai, Belgrade, Detroit, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Stockholm, Singapore and Cologne.


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