In the infamous prison’s shadow, ten artists will compete for your vote…

When art lover Sophie and music buff John started dating, they each had to compromise: Sophie on going to gigs, John to arty events that made him feel like an outsider. Eventually, they thought, why not create an event that merges the two? An inclusive, unpretentious art event where everyone’s opinion was equally valued…and that had the same energy as a concert, with live entertainment to boot. 

Our events aren't just for those with art training but also for those who rarely visit galleries and haven’t picked up a paintbrush since school

And so Art Battle was born. Seven years later, the sell-out event has witnessed hundreds of artists compete to create a masterpiece in just 30 minutes to win the audience’s voice and be crowned champion. Featuring ten artists and a different location each time, the offbeat night out has taken place everywhere from Royal Exchange Theatre to Projekts Skate Park and the Deaf Institute. 

2020 03 04 Hidden Nightclub
Art Battle’s next event takes place at Hidden, in the shadow of Strangeways Prison

Its next location, however, might be one of the quirkiest yet: Hidden nightclub, which is based in Downtex Mill in the shadow of Strangeways Prison. Artists will be encouraged to 'break out' their inner creativity at the May event, which is hosted in partnership with Headstock - the UK's biggest mental health music festival - alongside Help Musicians and Manchester Mind. All artwork created on the night will be auctioned to the live audience, with proceeds split between the artists and Headstock. 

As ever, there’ll be an array of artists - from painters to illustrators, tattooists to graffitists - as well as live bands and some unexpected shenanigans. Previous episodes have witnessed fire breathers, skateboarders and even ‘a magical unicorn.’

Piqued your interest? Art Battle XVII: Break Out takes place on Friday 15th May, 7-10pm. Tickets from £16.75 at

Read more: 15 things to do in Manchester: March 2020