This year, Manchester will play host to two arts festivals over Pride weekend. Queer We Are and Queerchester will both run in late August, showcasing the best talent from the North West, using venues just outside the village for which the public would not need a Pride wristband to visit. Queerchester will run its Liberation & Legacies Exhibition in Piccadilly Place, showcasing many LGBTQ Artists (including Haus of Phag’s affiliated artist Lauren Jo Kelly – click here to see her work), alongside an exhibition of the community’s history, memories and performance. Meanwhile, at the new 44PS venue, Queer We Are will be running a programme of music, performance and film over the Bank Holiday weekend, as well as clubnights from the Queer Alt fringe (whose programme of clubnights provide a full alternative to revellers wanting to party without having to enter the Pride enclosure).
I met with organisers from both Queerchester and Queer We Are, who were delighted to tell me about their ever-expanding programme of events for August. Queerchester will focus on the visual arts, with art and sculpture at its centre, featuring the works of Glenn Jones, Donna Bramall and many more; but the festival's lineup is not yet complete and is still accepting submissions for exhibition (if you wish to submit, contact the Queerchester team through their Facebook link below). And they were also very keen to tell me of their partnerships with the People's History Museum and Village photographer Paul Jones, with whom they will be exhibiting photographs spanning back to the beginnings of the gay community in Manchester.
There was so much negative press surrounding Pride's increasing hostility towards its own staff and the wider community last year that a very public and audible outcry has followed. But instead of calls for a boycott or protest, the answer to those who may not feel so included doesn't lie in staying away from the Village in August. Instead, August will see the community come alive both inside and outside the Pride enclosure and whether your tastes veer toward the mainstream or more fringe activities, this summer promises to great one for Queer events. And at least both these venues are indoors for when the heavens do inevitably open!
Queer We Are will run in 44PS 21st-25th August. Queerchester will run in Piccadilly Place 8th August-3rd September, for which there will be a fundraiser at Via this Wednesday evening (4th June).