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Northern stars rising: Manchester’s cultural renaissance is good for your business

Within the last four months alone, Smoking Gun’s hometown has made headlines for several (of the the right) reasons. Allow me to digress.
In February, the Whitworth Art Gallery opened its new multi-million pound wing, turning a provincial gem into a national destination. Last weekend, Home, the largest cultural space built on UK soil since London’s Barbican, saw its launch welcome visitors in their thousands, all eager to explore the new base for Cornerhouse and Library Theatre.
Further to those, in July, the biennial of world premieres, Manchester International Festival, kicks off, with the world’s media watching, and Granada Studios is about to be converted into a £72million venue. All of which is in addition to last year’s grand unveiling of the new Central Library, restoring one of the most iconic buildings in the region, and turning it into an asset worthy of the 21st Century.
Great news to say the least. But what exactly does all this have to do with your business? Well, on the face of it very little. But dig a little deeper and you start to realise just how important the cultural economy is for the rest of the city’s industries.
If we wind the clock back to the late-80s and early-90s, Manchester was a beating heart of culture within Europe, mainly thanks to music. The resulting legacy saw applications to its universities skyrocket, creating a wealth of highly skilled, well-educated graduates, and since then the city hasn’t really looked back.
We should never underestimate the importance of a strong cultural identity for attracting great ideas, and the minds that think them up. Without this the BBC’s relocation to Salford Quays would have been less likely, as would the aforementioned new additions to the list of local attractions. All of which mean we can expect a continued boom in popularity when it comes to the area’s major higher education institutions, and, more importantly, a greater level of retention when it comes to keeping those fresh, talented youngsters in Greater Manchester after their courses are finished.
And it’s not just creative industries that are flourishing here. In recent years one of the world’s top five law firms has moved in, several European headquarters have opened, and funding was unveiled and ring-fenced for Airport City, which will exploit the UK’s third busiest runways in order to attract companies that require strong links to every continent on the planet. This is all before we come to mention a devolved regional parliament, which is currently being finalised.
It’s not just me who thinks Manchester has cemented its place in the list of global cities, either. Just look at the northbound diaspora currently underway, as people look for cheaper rents and a lower cost of living, without sacrificing the international city idea. Proof, then, if it were needed, that this region is rising again, and has once more become a home to the freshest thinkers and the most dedicated can-doers, here on Bridge Street we call it ingeniousness, and we couldn’t be more proud of it.

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