Manchester is to expand its Library Live arts programme, bringing a new wave of original performances, installations and participatory events to four libraries across the city.

Manchester Libraries will work with leading arts and cultural organisations, emerging artists and community arts groups to develop a new series of events to be held at the four venues.

Library Live was launched at Central Library in 2014 by Manchester band Everything Everything (pictured) and has since presented everything from gigs, film nights and live performances to exhibitions, open mic evenings and creative courses.

November’s programme included visits from Zadie Smith and Jeremy Paxman, as well as exhibitions focused on everything from the Battle of the Somme to Philips Park Cemetery to Oasis.

Now, thanks to funding from Arts Council England’s National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme – plus support from the Oglesby Charitable Trust, Granada Foundation and Manchester Central Library Development Trust – Library Live will continue to offer a year-round calendar of artistic and cultural events at Central Library, plus three more city libraries – Longsight, Wythenshawe Forum and North City, in Harpurhey.

As part of the next phase of Library Live, residents will be invited to volunteer to become Cultural Ambassadors and will receive support to contribute their ideas to developing and promoting the libraries creative programming.

Two new artistic commissions are to be presented as part of the new wave of Library Live activities.
Manchester’s Company Chameleon will present ‘Illuminate’, an original dance in seven sequences. Kevin Turner, Chameleon’s Co-Artistic Director, will choreograph the piece with professional, newly-trained and youth company dancers.

And members of the Family Arts Network, which is led by Z-Arts – a creative centre for children, young people and families based in Hulme – will help develop a large-scale participatory event through a series of workshops for families and young children at Longsight, Wythenshawe Forum and North City libraries, building up to a performance at Central Library in May 2017.

Events at neighbourhood libraries will include special Fun Palace days, where the venue hosts a range of free community events.  Last month, more than 3,000 residents took part in the first Manchester Fun Palace day across the city, with more than 70 volunteers helping to offer activities ranging from jewellery making and wood-carving to dance and creative writing to computer coding and robot design.

Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said: “Working with Arts Council England and local cultural organisations, we will expand our Library Live programme, making the arts accessible and establishing our libraries as places where residents of all ages can experience high quality, imaginative cultural projects.

“Libraries are places of learning, culture and community.  Through Library Live, more residents will be empowered to enjoy the arts and explore their own creativity.”

Alison Clark, Director North, Arts Council England said: “I’m very pleased that we are able to support the expansion of the Library Live project through our National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme.  It’s particularly exciting to see the programme being rolled out to three more libraries in neighbourhoods across the city and involving residents in the creative programming. This means more people across Manchester will be able to attend, take part in and influence the artistic and cultural events happening in their local – and increasingly vibrant – library spaces.”

Kevin Edward Turner, Co-Artistic Director of Company Chameleon, said: “We are thrilled to be part of such an exciting programme of activity, we look forward to creating a unique work that will engage and enchant audiences.”

Saskia Metcalf, Creative Director Manager of Z-Arts, said: “Z-arts are proud to be working on the Library Live 2 programme with Manchester City Council and other partners.  We believe that libraries are certainly more than just books and that libraries are places where families can explore new and different worlds and start to imagine their own stories.  We are excited to work with families from all communities who live in Manchester to create a spectacular event that will inspire creativity in other children and families.”

To find out more, go to www.librarylive.co.uk.