by Michael Lawson
In her 2009 book Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the Twenty-First Century City, urbanist Anna Minton describes Manchester as “the bellwether for social change in Britain”: a city that birthed the industrial revolution, hosted the first ever Trade Union Congress and pioneered the cooperative movement, to name but three highlights from its radical past.
Fast-forward to 2019 and in among the PFI schemes and Northern Powerhouse sloganeering, an ambitious social project on the northern edge of the city is doing its best to revive these proud collectivist roots. Housed in a former synagogue, Partisan is a cooperative arts and social space using club nights and parties as a means of fundraising. By day, the upstairs meeting area hosts everything from food banks and refugee support groups to ’zine workshops and queer craft clubs. By night, an array of local and international artists descend on the venue’s warehouse-like basement for genre-traversing parties with music from across the spectrum.
“On one side we have what’s effectively a community centre, and on the other there’s a venue that hosts everything from techno and bass to drone and DIY punk,” explains venue and events coordinator Xav Cohen. “The idea is that Partisan is run as a collective, in a democratic, non-profit way, with all the money raised from the events going towards subsidising our social justice projects and paying the bills.”…
Image courtesy of Mixmag/Jody Hartley