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Cornerhouse to move to First Street

New £19m building will also house Library Theatre

Published on November 25th 2010.

Cornerhouse to move to First Street

The Cornerhouse cinema is set to move into a new £19m venue on First Street in the city centre.

The new building will also house the Library Theatre, which moved out of the Central Library earlier this year, a new gallery and an outdoor performance space.

The Cornerhouse will see the number of screens from three to five in the new building, which will be next to the council’s temporary home on the site. In 2009, the council invested £3m into First Street, owned by Ask Developments, to help deliver public realm.

The existing Cornerhouse building, on Oxford Street, is likely to be redeveloped.The new venue could open in 2014. Dave Moutrey, managing director at the Cornerhouse, said: "The new facility will give us space to grow, to increase our audience and widen access to contemporary visual art and cinema.

"We’ll be able to create more opportunities for community involvement and to expand our role as a digitally connected producer."

The Library Theatre’s artistic director Chris Honer said: "This is terrific news for Manchester audiences and the Library Theatre Company. It will enable the company to develop and expand its work and achieve its aspirations. "The artistic potential of the collaboration with Cornerhouse is immense."

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council said: "This is exactly the sort of scheme we need to get people into work, get our economy moving even faster, and show the world that Manchester is still an ambitious city."

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40 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Burt CodeineNovember 24th 2010.

Hmmm...I love the current position of the Cornerhouse - it's easy to get to via public transport (both bus and train). Not sure a spot off the Mancunian way will be as easy to get to without a motor car. I was also keen on the idea of the Library Theatre being housed in the Theatre Royal.
Give me a really special building (not the Bridgewater Hall!!) and I'm may be a little appeased, but can't help being a little dubious at the moment...

AnonymousNovember 24th 2010.

Consolidation for the nation!

Marley''s BobNovember 24th 2010.

Yaaa man!

GadgeNovember 24th 2010.

Surely if the Cornerhouse truly needs space to expand, there's the former Odeon with better transport connections than the edge of town! It's probably the same old issue of VAT being charged on modifications to buildings, and not for new build. And will the market support a larger Cornerhouse; the big theatre isn't sold out that often?

AnonymousNovember 24th 2010.

Hopefully they'll actually create an interesting building for this project, the current site has a lot of character and is pretty iconic, i hope it's not just another box next to the temporary town hall?

Kevin PeelNovember 24th 2010.

What fantastic news! I'm really excited about this development and its impact on Manchester's vibrant culture.

AnonymousNovember 24th 2010.

Very interesting news. First street has the potential to be a fantastic mixed use area.

There has been talk of a small supermarket (Waitrose?) going on there. Anyone know any more?

IanSimpsonNovember 24th 2010.

Hope they don't make the same mistake as with Urbis and make the building so expensive to run nothing will work there.

AnonymousNovember 24th 2010.

First Street seem a poor location for an Art House, being isolated from the City core and public transport and with no passing trade. I strikes me as high risk from the Crime and Disorder point of view as well.

Perhaps only in the context of a master plan would it work.

The coffee shop and bar presumably would attract mostly Council employees.

How is it to be funded and give the cut is EAC support how would it be maintained.

Actually please MCON less press releases and more phone calls!

Christopher BryanNovember 24th 2010.

very interesting news. It'd only be a 5 minute walk from Oxford Rd or Deansgate stations. The whole development site at the back of First St and Manc Way would be great to link the city centre seamlessly to Universities and Hulme. Currently you come out of the area into a huge wasteland and then hit Whitworth St.

AnonymousNovember 24th 2010.

As GADGE says above - there's an enormous old cinema building just down the road, which would house both cornerhouse and library theatre. its a poor choice of location and could ruin both. look at what can be done with a 1930s cinema - first class example at the plaza in stockport. and the cornerhouse certainly doesn't need to expand - they've just got far too much money that needs spending - look at the bar area that has the bar moved every 6 months. ridiculous waste of money in this time of supposed cutbacks.

marieNovember 24th 2010.

no no no no no. What an awful decision. It just won't work in First Street.

culturewatchNovember 24th 2010.

I agree with the last comment. Complete waste of money -more public money down the drain when everyone else has to suyffer cutbacks in services and jobs etc. I guess this is being funded by some government agency that is being abolished (like North West Development Agency) that has a stack of money that they have to spend or give back to central government. Just another sign of corruption and ring fencing public money into pet projects of city council. Diabolical! Cornerhouse is always pleading poverty, underpays it's staff below the city council's recommended minimum wage, yet is always spending money on improvements. They jsut spent several million pounds extending the Cornerhouse into the building at the rear of the bar - which now forms the Annex. This place needs to be made accountable for it's use of public money and should be made to repay the funds that were spend on the Annex for what is now going to be a limited life!

KPNovember 24th 2010.

I agree also, the area around first street is dull and badly connected to anywhere really. This would be a good idea if it was on the BBC oxford road site but not here.

Eddy RheadNovember 24th 2010.

Stupid idea.

D KesslerNovember 24th 2010.

Masterplan Birley Fields - link to town. Muggings in the Manc Way underpass will be history. Sorted!

Master PlannerNovember 24th 2010.

if only Salford had a cunning plan like this for the Chapel Street corridor. Manchester is putting meat on the bones again, they are light years ahead of their neighbour...

Eddy AirheadNovember 24th 2010.

Eddy, what an airhead you are indeed.

AnonymousNovember 24th 2010.

Does it mean more student hostels on the BBC and Corner House site ('redevelopment' in the MEN version of the press release.

supermarket sweepNovember 24th 2010.


TomegranateNovember 24th 2010.

If the queue for the pisser after the end of each film is a good indicator of a venue reaching its capacity, then Cornerhouse definitely needs to expand.

marieNovember 24th 2010.

masterplanner - there will be plenty of Cornerhouses and similar on Chapel Street in a few years I am sure. It would appear to be part of the wider plan but to drop something like that there now would be premature. Besides, in the meantime there's a huge amount of creative stuff going on there right now.

This move is bad news. First Street is not suitable for something like the Cornerhouse. And it won't BE the Cornerhouse anymore...unless they build it on a ... corner. The building and its character is part of the allure. It just won't work in a new building in this soulles part of town.

ADNovember 24th 2010.

Thank god, independent/arthouse movies are great but not if you have to sit in uncomfortable out dated cinemas like the corner house I went once and thought never again. A modern purpose built cinema showing indie movies will be wonderful - a boost to manchester just like FACT has been in liverpool.

master plannerNovember 24th 2010.

marie - art and culture always gentrify an area first, the rest follow. On Chapel Street neither is happening nor sorted out... first year town planning degree stuff

marieNovember 24th 2010.

I'd rather an old building with character and oddities than a cold, soulless box like FACT. Every one of my visits there has been unpleasant; grubby and totally devoid of any of the qualities that make the Cornerhouse what it is.

D KesslerNovember 24th 2010.

Marie - good on you if you can choose... both Temple Bar Dublin (new build) and East Berlin Mitte (old) work.

I''m different meNovember 24th 2010.

You wont catch people in Che guavera sweatshirts and DMs sitting with great big books entitled (in big red letters)'Philosophy For Very Intellectual and Arty Types'or similar such high brow tomes in a window where they can no longer be seen by passers by.

DavidNovember 25th 2010.

This is simply terrible news. The Cornerhouse is an institution. Don't these heathens understand or respect anything.

AnonymousNovember 25th 2010.

The news of the Cornerhouse move went down like a lead balloon in our house last night. This really is a bad move. The current location and set up is great (although I prefered the old bar downstairs if I'm honest).

Backwards move.

Manc exile in SalfordNovember 25th 2010.

There is absolutely no chance of the Cornerhouse being instead housed in the old Odeon cinema building.
As I understand, there is an agreement between Odeon and the city council that the building cannot be used as a cinema so instead at some point in the future, the site will be razed to the ground and an office will be built.

As far as relocating to First Street.....I think this could work. I'll wait until more detail emerges before passing judgment. As long as it's about a ten minute walk from the metro, the location will suit me.

P DiddyNovember 25th 2010.

It won't work! Fewer people, rather than more, will make the effort to go down there. The bar will be dead as it will lose all of the people who 'pop in' whilst in the Oxford road area who aren't going there especially for a film/exhibition. I hope they survive this period as surely revenues will fall for a while.

AnonymousNovember 26th 2010.

How can the City Council even dream this will work? The 'footfall' along Oxford Road is so important to the Cornerhouse and a 5 minute walk in the wrong direction, with limited public transport can kill any venue.
The nature of the Cornerhouse can't just be replicated in a modern building; this type of venue need to grow organically, it can't be imposed by Council cultural planners,developers and those who hope for the best.
And what's going to happen to the site and to the Theatre Royal and to the Odeon? Somehow, it smacks of a developer 'land banking' for some future cash cow of a development when the good times return...
If we were on the left bank, we would take to the streets in protest!

BenNovember 26th 2010.

Depending, as it did, on a developer erecting a new hotel behind it, I didn't ever think the Theatre Royal idea would take off, although I hoped that it would.
It is a sad fact that I attended the Royal Ex more than I did the Library Theatre which I attended far more than I did the Contact Theatre. The further from the centre, the more onerous the journey, the less likely a place will get my custom.

Given the existence of the Cornerhouse cinema virtually across the road, a pretty much "like-for-like" replacement does not seem to me something that would be caught by a restrictive covenant (or whatever) put in place by the Odeon. Did anyone take it up with them at a suifficiently senior level or did the council &/or ASK folk simply cite that as a convenient excuse to help make the case for the plan that they, er, stitched up for their apparent mutual benefit.

I have to agree with the Urbis-related comment above. The council showed its lack of commercial nouse when wasting/spending our money on that one.

DJBlandNovember 26th 2010.

Surely a from-the-ground-up renovation would be far better value than a new build??

This worked well for the Contact Theatre and also for Band on the Wall. Both reborn in fine style on the original site.

As others have said, its the location that IS cornerhouse.

People are creatures of habit, and can also be a bit lazy - so moving is risky enough...moving to a "backwater" is potentially fatal. That extra 5 minute walk may only take 5 minutes....but people often can't be *rsed....just ask the lonely tenants in Spinningfields,who have loads of "spare" time to wonder why hardly anyone (relative to the number of potential shoppers/eaters in town) will take 5 mins to pop down there from St Annes/Exchange Square & Market St

5 minutes is a long way away sometimes.

Ali McGowanNovember 26th 2010.

Hmmmm, mixed feelings. Good to hear about more arts facilities in the city centre and I don't mind the location suggested - it's ripe for finishing off (properly!). But... to hear the Library Theatre won't take over that sh*tty night club is a real blow and the current Cornerhouse building is awesome, imposing... and 'redeveloping' better not mean demolishing...

VernacularDecember 11th 2010.

Would it be a good idea to have a building that LOOKS great both on the inside and the outside?
The Royal Exchange Theatre puts on fairly bad work alot of the time but people still go because its a great place to visit.
Library Theatre, better acting and directing and choice of plays, but not a great theatre space.
Hopefully this new building will not be a bland ugly box.

sagesseDecember 11th 2010.

This is one of those incredibly stupid moments, like when Liverpool demolished the Cavern Club. I can't believe I ever took Manchester Council to be a serious organisation.

AnonymousDecember 16th 2010.

Mmmm. Funny how no one has mentioned how this relates to the proposed huge cuts by the Arts Council to venue revenue budgets and threatened staff positions. Could it be that by merely announcing a large-scale project like this it will be much harder for the Arts Council to justify impending cuts at this much-loved establishment? Could this therefore just be a clever way of maintaining funding while those around lose theirs? If so hats off to Cornerhouse - very clever!

KluncklickMay 27th 2011.

Seems a daft place to relocate, how many people use the Cornerhouse as a convenient meeting place before going on to other places, can't really see new location being used in the same way.

J DixonOctober 26th 2011.

Whatever will happen to the current Cornerhouse building??

It's the heart of Oxford Road's creative hub...moving to first street will leave a gaping hole on the Oxford Road corridor....pray tell me that some dodgy chain bar or restaurant won't snapple up the beautiful 'house on the corner'!?? What makes Cornerhouse what it is....is its location...can't they see that!!!!! God help us :(

I find it funny that 'Cornerhouse' will no longer be in a corner house...and the Library Theatre will no longer have anything to do with being housed in Manchester's library....it's all so sad.

We need to see a campaign to keep the Cornerhouse current building as some sort of creative hub...Oxford Road needs it....maybe a modern art gallery, spun off/managed by the Whitworth/Manchester City Galleries would be a great use....keep the bar and restaurant of course!

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