gm artist hub – one year on

This week marks a year since we first launched GM Artist Hub.

In the first days after venues were asked to close their doors, The Lowry reached out to a loose network of our brilliant artist development peers across Greater Manchester’s organisations with a simple proposition. Could we find a way of working together to support the independent artists in our area? In less than 24 hours, we came together as a partnership of 13 different organisations with a shared commitment to supporting local artists through the COVID-19 pandemic. We called this partnership GM Artist Hub.

Since launching in April 2020 GM Artist Hub has become a new feature of the local ecology. Working together, producers from across the partner organisations offer an open door and a listening ear to artists trying to find new ways forward. We offer practical advice, training, networking and funding opportunities. We work collectively to make Greater Manchester a more progressive, supportive, and inclusive place for artists to develop their careers.

What has GM Artist Hub achieved so far?

GM Artist Hub brings together Community Arts North West, Contact, hÅb, HOME, Manchester International Festival, Octagon Theatre Bolton, Oldham Coliseum, Royal Exchange Theatre, SICK! Festival, STUN, The Lowry, Waterside Arts and Creative Industries Trafford and Z Arts.

Over the last year:

  • We’ve run 460+ private 1-1 advice sessions offering local artists advice and support.
  • We’ve run nine bigger sessions offering 560+ artists an opportunity to explore new developments in the industry.
  • We’ve employed artists as workshop leaders and consultants 24 times.
  • We have awarded 10 hardship bursaries to creative freelancers excluded from other sources of support, 11 seed funding awards to help artists explore ideas for new work, and 3 new co-commissions bringing different partner organisations together to support new productions.

What comes next?

As the industry moves towards reopening, we know that an important part of rebuilding our local ecology is making sure that each organisation has its own distinct programme. However, we’ve also learned that working together allows us to support a wider range of artists and to do things that none of us could do alone, even while we run our own individual programmes.

Over the next year, GM Artist Hub will develop from its beginning as a crisis response to become a more sustainable, ongoing feature of the local arts ecology. We will focus on creating opportunities to bring people together, share learning, meet the needs of particular groups and amplify the brilliant work happening in Greater Manchester to those outside our region. And, more than anything, we will continue to work together to make Greater Manchester an even greater place for artists.

Thanks

Claire

Claire Symonds
Senior Producer: Artist Development