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Should we have a Manchester Day?

The Town Hall have proposed a Manchester Day. We debate whether it’s a good idea.

Published on March 13th 2008.

Should we have a Manchester Day?

Manchester Town Hall is proposing a Manchester Day, in which the communities and districts of the city together with companies and individuals can celebrate Manchesterness through a big parade. Charlie Butterworth and Jonathan Schofield argue the pros and cons.

Charlie Butterworth says it’ll just be embarrassing

Bloody hell we need a Manchester Day like a hole in the head. All these things are shoe-horned into the calendar as a fund-giving out shindig for several low-key community groups. These then produce crap floats from cardboard, string, milk bottle tops and poster paints - with the help of artists who never amounted to much and do ‘hospital work’.

Last time I looked we had more than enough crap festivals to go around. The Irish Market on Saturday last week was dreadful, about five stalls containing nothing but tat. It was laughable: seventeen joke large leprechaun hats on a bench do not make a festival. The Chinese New Year Festival has also turned into a bit of a damp squib too and needs re-thinking. Since Streets Ahead we’ve had bugger all that’s been really good in the city centre. At present we’re as good at festivals as we are at fountains. In other words as effective as that Charlie Dimmick sub-fountain that does a bit of trickling in the canal basin close to the Bridgewater Hall.

Truth is festivals are best when they are genuine when they come from the heart, from tradition and are not imposed from above. Think of the Mardi Gras in Rio, of San Isidro in Madrid or the events which lead up to the Palio in Sienna. These have pedigree. They came from the bottom up, the barrios and the districts to begin with, before being kidnapped by the local authority and the media.

Festivals that stem from political or tourist policy decisions don't get anywhere. When people are told that they should go and celebrate, they usually can't be bothered and the events end up an embarrassment. Every visitor can see straight through them as a load of pointless fakery.

A Manchester Day will only work if we spend loads of money on it to make an unmissable spectacle. Think about this. The example quoted in the MEN was Macy‘s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. This is sponsored by Macy’s department store: it takes the form of huge balloon-like inflatables and blimps processing down the streets. Now get this: companies must pay Macy’s $190,000 for the first year to cover the cost of construction. After that the yearly price of admission is about $90,000. In total, companies are paying Macy’s about $5 million a year.

Will Manchester Day command that sort of money? Ha.

Jonathan Schofield thinks we should give the idea a chance

Charlie don’t be so miserable. Of course, we don’t want anything as bad as the Irish Market this year. Manchester International Festival in 2007 is the model. This was adequately resourced, had enough money to make a splash and didn’t feel provincial.

Councillor Pat Karney, who's dreamed up the idea, told Confidential that the money hadn’t been found yet and needed to come from private as well as public sources: “We’re going to go down to the cellars of the Town Hall and fish out the gold bars,” he joked. “Seriously though , we’re setting up a Board which in all probability won’t be run by the council, but by private sector members and we’ll bring in cash that way.” Karney also said: “We might try and run it together with the next International Festival.” This seems like a sensible suggestion.

As for events they could be a mix of worthy and wild. Shamefully few children in Manchester (and Greater Manchester) learn anything about how important their region is: its pioneering achievement in politics, science, industry and popular culture.

Why not involve kids from every school in Manchester in doing something relevant to those themes on the proposed Parade. You could have projects in schools leading up to the event too. This would build identity and pride in the city. It would make it easier to get sponsorship too.

The fun stuff might be, as Karney proposes, a collision of Streets Ahead meets Music Live. If you remember these, the first was about crazy acts from all over the world doing zany things on high wires with lots of fireworks. Music Live was a BBC event with musicians performing down alleyways, in shopping centres and squares. Both were superb.

Jumble these together, put it on during the first weekend of Manchester International Festival, throw money at it to make it a jaw-dropper and we might have a winner.

As for a major sponsor? The Co-operative Society, with its headquarters in Manchester, has a turnover of £9 billion. They should be good for a million which might encourage other sponsors. The aim should be to not use public money at all.

Certainly at this stage it’s silly for ‘sources’ to quote the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a model. Let’s run before we can walk, if you forgive the pun. Macy’s event attracts 3.5m spectators, and has being going since the 1920s with a budget of over £3m.

A Manchester Day could work, but it has to be ambitious, properly financed and given time to grow.

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

UninspiredMarch 13th 2008.

Jonathan, I hope you are joking?? The Co-operative Society to donate a million pounds in sponsorship money? How about they spend that paying the employees who have now been made redundant after the Co-op started selling off parts of their group in questionable deals?

Blue JohnMarch 13th 2008.

I agree with Derek Twitcher but suggest that we have it on, say, Sun 10 Feb to mark the occasion of The Stretford Town Massacre, wherein 11 or so...er...Manchester boys/blokes brave and true, stuffed it up good and proper to the red shirted invaders from Stretford Town.

annaMarch 13th 2008.

Oh God the school of samba. It's like someone throwing all their pans down a metal staircase, which goes on for all eternity, ergo DREADFUL.

soupsterMarch 13th 2008.

I am LOVING it ! Why shouldn't we celebrate being the most wonderful City in Europe!! hell why don't we go all out and get our own currency !!! whoop whoop you go Manchester! (with a large inflatable Bez!) x

Oldham_MancMarch 13th 2008.

Oh yeah, one other thing. If the city can't raise the cash to pay for D:percussion anymore which was always quality, how are they gonna raise it for this? Why not just use the money to expand D:Percussion to cover more of the city?

DutchyMarch 13th 2008.

Hold on.....isn't Councillor Pat Karney the same one who did one to Berlin during New Years Eve celebrations and who, after numerous complaints, now all of a sudden thinks this is the best idea ever? Is this the same councillor who proposes to put netting around the canals for health and safety reasons because of one tragic accident and several unfortunately self inflicted incidents (like someone who snatched a bag and drowned whilst retrieving it)?

Oldham_MancMarch 13th 2008.

Take one look at Oldham/Rochdale/Ashton/any other north manchester backwater town Carnival and know this is a bad idea. It will be nowt but floats dawned in spray painted paper plates and ribbons with seriously bored kids in crap costumes waving on the back. Oh, and Morris dancers and rubbish face painters along with a fairground on Albert Square full of half drunk 14 year scrotes from the local council estates. Lets not waste our time eh?!

Burt CocaineMarch 13th 2008.

With a host of wonderful native Cosgrove Hall characters, there'll be no need to worry about the inflatable cartoons...a huge 'Chorlton' waddling down Princess Street a la The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man will persuede head me to come along....add a brass band pumping out 'there is a light...' then we have a winning parade.I always thought the past D Percussion events tuned into a particular vein of Mancunia, but the event proposed here will obviously have to reach a wider audience.I agree with bolting it into the lintel of the MIF rather than celebrating a bomb or past massacre.It's encouraging to see evidence on this site to of the council working with the private sector again and dropping by this fantastic first port of call 'webazine' for the word on the street...mind you Crains is quite dandy also.

AnonymousMarch 13th 2008.

A good idea in principle but never likely to please all or even 40% of the population. Just look at how divided people are over the Christmas market and d.percussion.

squirrelitoMarch 13th 2008.

I'd prefer something OTHER than a parade. How many do we need? I wouldn't mind but every last one of them is dire.

DamoMarch 13th 2008.

E-ar man, dats a bangin idee-yoh. Mad ferit!

RobMarch 13th 2008.

Mark G (Mr Publisher man) - totally agree that Pride is doing very well for the city, and it would be great to attach to MIF and run Manchester Day with public/private investment. Nice to see you'll put your hand in your pocket too! One small hiccup - I think you'll find that a certain Mr Anthony McCaul is a far better organiser and person to work with the lovely Pat Karney! Nice one Man Con - Jonathan's the winner in the debate supporting the city - oh - and cheer up the rest of you!!

secret squirrelMarch 13th 2008.

Really - is it necessary? I agree it will be tacky and we dont see any Birmingham day or London day - the giant picture of Scooby Doo just about sums up how tacky it will be and people will just think - oh there go the chavvy mancs!

JamesMarch 13th 2008.

Good God please no. Nice sentiments Jonathan but it would turn out to be a bunch of scrotes in rags annoying the good citizens as they wander through town on a Saturday. Just keep the city clean, clear away all the crap street furniture in Market Stree and St Ann's Square and push away that racket from the Manchester School of Samba. Just let the city go about it's business.

Dick TwitcherMarch 13th 2008.

If we do have one, it should be on the day of the Peterloo Massacre. Of all the key, monumental changes that has happened in Manchester - splitting the atom, the first computer made in Manchester etc, it's the industrial revolution which defined politics/industry etc for hundred of years after and had a world wide impact on the world. It was this that put Manchester on the map so to speak.Peterloo was the catalyst which has led to many things we take for granted today such as Trade Unions, the vote and peaceful protest - part of what we would call "freedom" today and which we ... err... go around the world trying to bomb into Iraqis and Afghans ha ha!Still, I bet it ends up as Tony Wilson day ...

Mark Garner, The PublisherMarch 13th 2008.

Michael, I was thinking rather of cashing out than cashing in, just fancy a bloody good party to be honest...

The real Rod HullMarch 13th 2008.

Can the One-Man-Band guy from St. Anns square lead the way? It'll go really slowly because everyone will get stopped by the carity muggers every 5 metres in town!

Holly_Em_CMarch 13th 2008.

Im so up for it, especially if that means i can have an extra day off at work, like a bank holiday! wahooo im in and ready to partay baybee! x

GordoMarch 13th 2008.

Fab idea, lets put some meat on the bones so I can review it....

Mark Garner, The PublisherMarch 13th 2008.

God almighty, you lot are in a negative mood. I personally think that a Manchester day is a great idea, as long as it is done with a positive attitude and is a public/private partnership. The gay weekend is working well, showing what can be achieved if the community get ehind it. I for one will be happy to put my time, and maybe a bit of dosh into it. Pat Karney BTW isn't a bad lad at all, he is a good organiser. As is young Rob Adlard; these fellers simply need to be put to work on our behalf. Come on, lets show the rest of 'Great Britain' that the North West can show them the way home. Don't come on whining like the rest of the country. What sodding recession?

MichaelMarch 13th 2008.

Yet another attempt to cash in on the so-called Manchester brand (this is how these people think and talk) whch no doubt will hark back yet again to Manchester's overvisited musical past at the same time as massive overdevelopmnent in the city centre has killed off the environment that nutured it in the first place. Could anyone find cheap scruffy premises to set up orgnisation such as Music Force or Manchester Musicians Collective now? Far better to put in modest amounts of money to support local festivals and carnivals all year round...

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