Illuminate wows audiences and proves the possibilities are endless for Manchester libraries.

Library Live, the innovative arts programme funded by Arts Council England, Grants for the Arts, has continued to push the boundaries of what Manchester libraries can be, in the first stage of the phase two funded programme.

The specially commissioned, Illuminate, by Company Chameleon saw Central Library transformed through dance and movement in November, as the Manchester dance company took audiences on a journey of dance around the building. Following on, at the end of January, Chameleon toured extracts from the piece to Longsight, North City and Wythenshawe Forum Library.


The culmination of the commission saw branch libraries offer a totally new visitor experience, as they opened their doors after-hours for a unique cultural experience among the bookshelves.

Talking about the branch libraries performances, Max Goulding, Libraries Service Development Specialist, said, “It was inspiring to see Company Chameleon make the different library spaces their stage, demonstrating that the possibilities really are endless for libraries. The events succeeded in engaging local communities with something different and new, challenging stereotypical views of what a library is for, and bringing new people into the buildings.”


Celebrating libraries as creative spaces, where you can enjoy arts and culture on your doorstep, all of the Illuminate performances – both at central and at branch libraries – sold-out. In total across the project, Illuminate reached at audience of over 650 and over 90% of the audience rated the performances as either four or five stars. Here’s what some of the audience had to say.

Longsight Library: “Loved that the art of dance was brought to me locally free of charge. This helps to break down the idea that art is only for the middle class/rich.”

North City Library: “Perfect. Very moving and entertaining. Accessible for all people and child friendly.”

Wythenshawe Forum Library: “Such a beautiful event, really inspiring and unexpected – especially in Wythenshawe!” “Loved seeing my nine-year-old so inspired by the dancing/fighting performance.”

Central Library: “It was brilliant. What an amazing way to use a library.”

Company Chameleon’s Co-Artistic Director, Kevin Edward Turner, said, “Illuminate celebrates and is evidence of the risk-taking and adventurous approach to the way Manchester’s cultural services deliver. Our biggest commission to date, it was brave of Library Live to get behind Illuminate and work with us to achieve something truly exciting, which challenged the way dance as an artform can be enjoyed and experienced.”


The Library Live phase two programme continues this spring with This Vibrant Thing in March and this summer with The Ministry of Lost & Found on Saturday 23 June (more announcements soon).