The annual awards were launched by the city council in 2018 to acknowledge Manchester’s rapidly growing reputation for culture and the arts, and to pay tribute to the very best of both.

They recognise individuals, events, and organisations big and small, that together help make Manchester the vibrant and exciting place for culture and the arts that it is.

The competition to win one of the coveted awards was fiercer than ever this year after the number of nominations made topped 466 across 12 different categories – the highest number of nominations since the awards began.

The exceptional quality of all those nominated gave judges an unenviable task in deciding who the winners should be.

In addition to the main awards with winners chosen by the panel of judges, members of the public were invited have their say on who the winner should be of The Manchester People’s Culture Award – a special award made in partnership with the Manchester Evening News, with the winner chosen entirely by public vote.

The awards this year also included three Special Recognition awards, presented by the judges to recognise the huge individual contribution made to culture and creativity in Manchester by the three recipients over a number of years.

Let no-one say there isn’t an appetite for the arts and culture in Manchester. The response each year to our culture awards shows we’re a city that positively eats, sleeps, and breathes culture in all its many forms.

This year once again they’ve proved what an incredible cultural scene there is here and just how much talent and potential there is.

We are and always will be a city that champions creativity and the arts. They deliver real social and economic benefits to the whole city and are a massive part of what helps make Manchester the great place it is.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Deputy Leader, Manchester City Council

The winners in each category are as follows:

Best Business Partnership

Barry Bennett Ltd and Venture Arts

Best Event

HOME – HOMEground 

Best Exhibition

Science and Industry Museum – Cancer Revolution: Science, Innovation and Hope      

Best Performance

Manchester International Festival – When The Birds Land     

Independent Creative of the Year

Sharon Raymond    

Made in Manchester

Manchester Young Carers Music Project     

Promotion of Culture & Education


Promotion of Environmental Sustainability

Roots and Branches      

Promotion of Equality & Social Justice

Uncertain Futures 

Promotion of Health & Wellbeing

The Edge    

Promotion of Talent & Leadership

Brighter Sound Leadership Programme 

Young Creative of the Year

Yandass Ndlovu    

The Manchester People’s Culture Award

Ed Wellard  

Special Recognition Award

Dave Moutrey OBE

Director of HOME and also Director of Culture for the city – a longstanding member of the cultural community in Manchester who is known throughout the city region, across the north, nationally and internationally.

With a background in theatre, performance, and education, the former drama teacher and manager of Abraham Moss Theatre has always been an advocate for the power of the arts. He joined Arts About Manchester in 1990 before becoming Chief Executive and Director of the Cornerhouse in 1998, and then overseeing the development of HOME which opened in 2015 and has become a highly regarded centre for international contemporary arts, theatre and film under his leadership.

Special Recognition Award

Lemn Sissay

Author, poet, playwright, and campaigner. After being brought up in care, he used his unemployment benefit money to self-publish his first poetry pamphlet, Perceptions of Pen, before moving from Atherton to Manchester where he became a literature development worker at Commonword, a community publishing cooperative in the city. His Landmark Poems can be found on the walls of hospitals, libraries, pubs, universities, and train stations, bringing his writing to communities in public spaces every day.

He is also a patron of the Letterbox Club, supporting children in care, and, inspired by his own experience of leaving social care, he established The Christmas Dinners in 2013, an organisation that works with local communities to provide an amazing Christmas Day for young adult care leavers aged between 18 and 25, one they’ll never forget.

Special Recognition Award – awarded posthumously

Kate Day

For almost 15 years Kate led Manchester Craft Design Centre, creating a space where craft, creativity and communities could thrive.

During this time she helped to support and develop the careers of thousands of makers and arts professionals, always giving people an opportunity when she could. She was a pivotal figure within the craft sector, becoming Chair of the North West Craft Network in 2012.

Kate sadly died earlier this year following a short illness.

Judges of this year’s Manchester Culture Awards included Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council: Princess Arinola Adegbite, Manchester Culture Awards Young Creative of the Year Winner 2021; Venessa Scott, visual artist; Pete Courtie, Senior Relationship Manager Arts Council England; and Neil Fairlamb, Strategic Director of Neighbourhoods, Manchester City Council.