From carnival arts to museums and festivals, 35 organisations will receive GMCA Culture Funding

THEATRES, museums, festivals and cultural centres from across all ten boroughs of Greater Manchester are to be given a boost thanks to an £8.6 million investment in arts and creativity throughout the city region.

Thirty-five organisations will receive grants from the Greater Manchester Culture Fund, set up by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to support cultural organisations that provide excellent cultural experiences and opportunities throughout Greater Manchester. This year's investment - a 23% increase on the £7m allocated in 2018 - allows GMCA to support organisations across all boroughs, recognising the important role culture plays in the vibrancy and liveability of our towns and cities.

For the first time, literature and carnival arts organisations will join museums, heritage, theatre, film, dance, music, and visual arts organisations in receiving grants from the Culture Fund. There is also an increase in support to Salford, Wigan and Tameside, and more funding for Greater Manchester carnival arts.

2018 03 05 Company Chameleon
“The groups and organisations recognised here represent some of the very best Greater Manchester has to offer” Company Chameleon

Cllr David Greenhalgh, GMCA portfolio lead for culture, said: “Greater Manchester is a place like no other when it comes to culture, creativity and opportunity. Through the Culture Fund, we are reaffirming our commitment to the groups and institutions that are the lifeblood of our communities, and which contribute more than £1.4 billion to our economy every year.” 

The cultural organisations set to receive a share of the funding are: GM Arts, MancSpirit, Brighter Sound, Manchester Camerata, The Turnpike, Sheba Arts, The Met, Wigan Steam, Company Chameleon Dance Theatre, Art with Heart, Manchester Histories, Manchester International Festival, Gaydio, Old Courts, Manchester Pride, Comma Press, Manchester Jazz Festival, Z Arts, Manchester Literature Festival, HOME, Octagon Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre, Walk The Plank, Oldham Coliseum, Global Grooves, Peoples History Museum, English Folk Expo, Music Action International, Centre For Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester Jewish Museum, Cartwheel Arts, Contact Theatre, Quays Culture, Arts For Recovery in the Community and The Halle Orchestra.

2017 11 20 Jewish Museum
Manchester Jewish Museum is currently undergoing a £5m transformation

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “It feels like we have the best of both worlds here in Greater Manchester: a whole catalogue of internationally renowned artists and creatives, and a vibrant cultural scene right at the heart of our local communities. 

“We want to this to be the best place to grow up, get on and grow old, and that means supporting the institutions and groups that enrich our places and create new opportunities in our vibrant, diverse economy.” 

Manchester Jazz Festival Tent
The current grant programme will operate over a period of two years, from April 2020 to March 2022 Manchester Jazz Festival

The increased funding and provision in the Greater Manchester Culture Fund aligns with the Culture Strategy, which aims to ensure that Greater Manchester’s cultural offer will reflect the diversity of its people by 2024 - empowering then to share their stories, improving wellbeing and increasing the prosperity of businesses and the attractiveness of our places. 

Greater Manchester’s night-time economy adviser Sacha Lord also welcomed the investment. As well as praising Manchester’s strength across the arts, he added: “This increased investment directly supports delivery of my night-time economy blueprint and - at a challenging time for local government - demonstrates real foresight, leadership and commitment to keeping our town and city centres thriving and maintaining and growing our international reputation."

This year there were 103 applications to the Culture Fund. The successful organisations will in communities across Greater Manchester, delivering on its four main objectives:

  • Contribute to the recognition of Greater Manchester locally, nationally and internationally to attract new investment, new visitors and new talent
  • Make a positive contribution to improving skills and employability of residents in Greater Manchester, including support for the creative education, expression and ambition of young people
  • Play a strong role in developing strong and inclusive communities and an improved quality of life for residents, particularly those residents at risk of disengagement or social isolation
  • Be able to evidence how the project will make a positive contribution to improving residents’ health and wellbeing

More information on Culture Fund recipients below…

Arts At The Mill (WIGAN)

Arts At The Mill is revolutionising the cultural landscape of Wigan with a high-quality resident responsive arts programme that is changing lives of people across the borough. They turn disused heritage spaces into local community hubs, and are currently planning to revive the iconic Wigan Pier.

Arts for Recovery in the Community – ARC (STOCKPORT)

Now based in Stockport Hat Works, Arc has a 25 year track record of producing transformational arts projects which engage and include marginalised groups, promote wellbeing and recovery from mental ill-health, and reach thousands of audiences across the North West. Each year Arc works with hundreds of vulnerable adults and young people in projects that reach across the spectrum of mental health. 

Art with Heart (SALFORD)

Art with Heart is an award-winning Salford based company that delivers performances, workshops and people-led creative projects for community groups, arts organisations and schools across the UK. Its award-winning portfolio spans one-woman show Declaration, about the experience of seeking diagnosis for adult ADHD, to an interactive exhibition on equality in the 21st century. 

Comma Press (MANCHESTER)

Comma Press is a not-for-profit independent publisher specialising in the short story. Founded in 2003, its award-winning publications include collections by new and established authors, interdisciplinary collaborations and translations from around the world. Comma also works as a writer development agency, delivering short story courses and hosting the annual National Creative Writing Industry Day, and is the founder of the Northern Fiction Alliance; a publishing collective designed to support and showcase independent publishers in the North of England.


Contact is where young people change their lives through the arts, and audiences of all ages experience exciting new shows. It is the leading national arts venue to place young people at the decision-making heart of everything and is currently touring the region as its Oxford Road home undergoes a multimillion-pound transformation. Contact also delivers an array of popular annual events, including the Queer Contact Festival. 

2020 03 04 House Of Surez At Contact

Company Chameleon (TRAFFORD)

Company Chameleon makes original, inspiring dance theatre in Manchester and stages over 50 performances every year, both locally and internationally. It also delivers an extensive learning and participation programme and, in 2019, welcomed Dame Darcey Bussell as its patron.

English Folk Expo (ROCHDALE)

EFEx supports the English folk, roots and acoustic music sector through projects like Manchester Folk Festival, Rochdale Folk Festival, an annual industry showcase and a year-round regionwide events calendar. It also delivers artist and industry training programmes.


Gaydio Academy is a skills development organisation and radio station for the LGBT+ community, providing a voice for those experiencing discrimination and social isolation while enabling them to develop skills and friendships. It broadcasts a range of engaging content, from interviews to short documentaries. 


Greater Manchester Arts is a unique network within the UK made up of representatives from the arts services and cultural trusts across all ten districts of Greater Manchester. Members work together to facilitate, deliver and commission work with a singular vision; ‘to get more people being more creative, more often.’ 

Global Grooves (TAMESIDE)

Global Grooves is one of the UK’s leading carnival arts organisations, drawing on worldwide cultural art forms to deliver jaw-dropping carnival experiences. Artist-led and ambitious, it brings together world-class artists with young people, communities and organisations to create the most extraordinary opportunities, moments and memories. 

2020 03 04 Global Grooves


Now in its 162nd season and numbered amongst the world’s top symphonic ensembles, the Hallé continues to produce innovative performances and deliver pioneering education programmes. It exists to create a wider enjoyment and understanding of music throughout the whole community and generates over 70 projects each year. 


HOME is Manchester’s centre for international contemporary culture and has welcomed over 2.9 million visitors since opening in 2015. It stages thought-provoking drama, dance, film and contemporary visual art with a strong focus on international work, new commissions and talent development - as well as hosting several dining spaces and a bookshop.

Manchester Camerata (MANCHESTER) 

Manchester Camerata is an orchestra and ‘a collection of artists, thinkers and storytellers.’ It works with artists from across the spectrum of society and believes passionately in breaking down the barriers to orchestral music and redefining what it means to be an orchestra.

Manchester Histories (MANCHESTER) 

Manchester Histories is a growing and dynamic charity that works collaboratively with people, organisations and partners to reveal, share and celebrate Greater Manchester's diverse histories and heritage. It delivers projects, training, exhibitions, events, networks and more - as well as hosting Manchester Histories Festival.

Manchester International Festival (MANCHESTER) 

Manchester International Festival’s biennial fest draws visitors from across the world with its medley of world premieres and dynamic collaborations; staged in a rich tapestry of venues from theatres, galleries and concert halls to railway depots, churches and car parks. MIF will soon have a permanent home in The Factory, a £130m arts centre, where it will stage a year-round events programme as well as continuing its community engagement programme via schemes like the Factory Academy

02 07 2019 Mif Invisible Cities

Manchester Jazz Festival (MANCHESTER) 

Manchester Jazz Festival (MJF) is the longest running music festival in Manchester and is unlike any other event on the jazz festival circuit. It is award-winning and renowned throughout Europe for dissolving stereotypes as well as commissioning and presenting new music, diversifying indigenous talent and for its pioneering advances in artform and audience development. MJF is accessible to all, with many free events, and is investing in new talent with upskilling programmes and showcases.

Manchester Jewish Museum (MANCHESTER)

Housed in a former synagogue in the city’s historic Jewish Quarter, on Cheetham Hill, Manchester Jewish Museum has been engaging communities on Jewish culture since 1984. The venue is currently undergoing a £5m transformation: due to open 2021, facilities will include new gallery, learning studio and a Jewish café. The Grade II* listed synagogue will also be repaired and refurbished, enabling the museum (which is temporarily based in Central Library) to stage a diverse events programme.

Manchester Literature Festival (MANCHESTER)

Manchester Literature Festival (MLF) began trading in 2006 and was built on the legacy of its very successful predecessor, Manchester Poetry Festival, which ran for 12 years. MLF curates an annual two-week literature festival and a year-round events and education programme, which includes less advantaged areas of Greater Manchester to help children thrive through literature.

MancSpirit (TRAFFORD)

MancSpirit is Greater Manchester’s mental wellbeing charity. Its remit includes delivering creative and inclusive workshops and events, supporting organisations to improve their mental wellbeing practise, improving access for disadvantaged people and communities and campaigning for equal opportunities.  

Music Action International (MANCHESTER)

Music Action International transform lives destroyed by war, torture and persecution. It creates award-winning music programmes with refugees and asylum seekers to overcome the effects of trauma and isolation through creative expression in emotionally safe environments; connecting divided communities through shared positive experiences, creating empathy and understanding between people of different backgrounds.

Octagon Theatre Bolton (BOLTON) 

The Octagon is a regional producing theatre that makes bold, adventurous and popular theatre and is a creative home for the people of Bolton and beyond. It is currently undergoing a £12m redevelopment and will re-open in July 2020 with a programme including two world premieres, a regional premiere and two audience favourites, alongside creative festivals and activities that will engage thousands of young people, adults and community groups. 

Bolton Octagon 594R

Oldham Coliseum (OLDHAM) 

Oldham Coliseum Theatre is a cultural and educational charity that works with over 150,000 individuals per year. With a rich history dating back to 1885, it provides a wide variety of distinctive theatre performances and participatory activities for young people and local communities. Integral to the town’s ongoing regeneration, it’s also part of the Oldham Cultural Quarter.

People’s History Museum (MANCHESTER)

People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester is the national museum of democracy, telling the story of its development in Britain from past to present and future via award-winning exhibitions and community events. Themed annually, these have ranged from representation to protest and migration. 

Manchester Pride Superbia (MANCHESTER)

Ran by Manchester Pride, one of the UK's leading LGBTQ+ charities, Superbia is a year-round calendar of arts and culture for and by LGBTQ+ people designed to support, curate, fund and promote LGBTQ+ events throughout Greater Manchester. It aims to create opportunities for those who are further marginalised to engage with the arts and to ultimately reduce social isolation. 

Quays Culture The Lowry (SALFORD)

Supported by Salford Culture & Place Partnership and The Lowry, Greater Manchester’s most visited cultural venue, Quays Culture delivers a comprehensive programme of excellent, free cultural events and engagement activity in public spaces at Salford Quays. This has a distinctive digital and media focus, reflecting Salford Quays as the home of MediaCityUK. 

Royal Exchange (MANCHESTER)

The Royal Exchange Theatre is an award-winning producing theatre, founded in 1976 by a group of artists. Its iconic in-the-round theatre is housed in the Grade II listed Royal Exchange building. Audiences and communities are at the heart of everything it does, with programmes that engage communities of all ages and backgrounds. 

Royal Exchange 2


Sheba Arts is a women-migrant and refugee-led CIC established in 2018 as an unincorporated association in response to the challenges of misrepresentation, or lack of representation, in the arts and culture. Working with people from local communities, alongside migrants and refugees, they have been delivering excellent artistic projects across Greater Manchester since inception.

The Met (BURY)

The Met is an innovative and rapidly growing organisation in Bury, the 2020 Greater Manchester Town of Culture. It presents a mix of live music, theatre and comedy alongside a variety of hires in a beautiful Grade II 4.6million refurbished building; as well as community workshops, a recording studio and a creative business hub. The Met also hosts events outside the building, including a three-day 5000 capacity outdoor music festival, as well as collaborating with other organisers.

The Turnpike (WIGAN)

The Turnpike CIC was established in January 2017 to reinvent and reinvigorate a former local authority brutalist art gallery in Leigh. Within two years, it has developed and established itself as a highly regarded art gallery with the community at its core; building resources, creating significant national and international partnerships and curating a programme that is both of national significance and local relevance.

Walk The Plank (SALFORD)

Now in its 28th year, Walk the Plank has a local, national and international reputation as a leader in outdoor arts. Renowned for spectacles like the Manchester Day parade and Dashehra Diwali Mela, it unites professional artists with local communities to create extraordinary events that bring people together. 


Wigan STEAM is a future-focused collective of artists, scientists, engineers and creative technologists, delivering a programme of high quality creative activity for children, young people and the wider community. Projects include immersive installations, e textiles, coded music, kinetic art projects and creative invention sessions - inspiring the next generation of innovators.


Z-arts is the UK’s only arts centre for children and families, delivering creative participatory activities and children’s theatre from its base in Hulme and across the North West. It specialises in creative education and inclusivity, bringing families together and introducing children from different cultures to new ideas and skills.

More funding & creative news

GMCA’s Culture Fund isn’t the only good news for northern arts this year. Eight organisations recently received a share of £740,000 as part of the Arts Council’s Elevate programme, while Salford’s Islington Mill has been awarded £746,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund towards its restoration.

And there's another boost for creativity with the launch of the Manchester Cultural Education Partnership on Monday 9th March. This ground-breaking new collaboration will see arts organisations across the city work with schools to inspire creativity in education.

Read more: Manchester's essential festival calendar: January to April 2020