Cornerhouse closes after 30 years before move to new Home

Cornerhouse Image copyright Ben page
Image caption Cornerhouse opened in 1985 as a venue for independent film and contemporary visual arts

The arts venue that hosted the UK premiere of Reservoir Dogs and was the first to commission art by Damien Hirst closes for the final time later.

Manchester's Cornerhouse, which opened in 1985, will shut as staff move to Home on First Street to join the also-relocating Library Theatre.

Tom Jeffers, who has worked there for 30 years, said it had been the city's "beating heart of popular culture".

Chief executive Dave Moutrey said he was "proud" of what it had achieved.

Cornerhouse was founded by the Greater Manchester Visual Arts Trust (GMVAT) in 1985 and came to serve about 500,000 visitors every year.

Its success is partly the reason for the move, as the current building could not cope with the numbers and needed "continuous, costly maintenance", a spokeswoman said.

Image copyright Home
Image caption Work on the new two theatre and five cinema screen venue began in 2012

Mr Moutrey said some visitors may "miss the leaky roofs, uncomfortable cinema seats, idiosyncratic gallery spaces, and lining up outside in the rain [but] I am sure people will recognise something of Cornerhouse in Home and come to love the place as much."

In April 2012, GMVAT merged with the Library Theatre Company to become Greater Manchester Arts Centre Ltd, which was the first step in the move to Home.

Manchester City Council, which owns both the new venue and the Cornerhouse, said no decision had been made on the long-term plans for the Oxford Road site.

The vacant buildings on the corner of Oxford Road and Whitworth Street West will be used by Manchester Metropolitan University as a teaching space in the short-term.

Image copyright @CornerhouseMcr
Image caption The venue tweeted a message of thanks to visitors on its final day

Cornerhouse is hosting an event called The Storming to mark the move, which will see "audiences, artists, community groups and DJs from Manchester's club scenes taking part in a truly unique send-off" on Saturday, a spokeswoman said.

Mr Moutrey said there had been an "outpouring of love for Cornerhouse as we have been moving towards retiring the building and name".

"It shows that we must have been doing something right for the last umpteen years."

'The beating heart of popular culture'

Image copyright Manchester libraries

Cornerhouse's front of house manager Tom Jeffers joined as an usher 30 years ago:

"The venue has been important to me as it gave me a education in arthouse cinema and the opportunity to be part of a organisation that was groundbreaking in offering Manchester the best in contemporary visual art, independent film and cafe culture.

"I have been lucky to have many highlights but the ones that stand out are meeting Quentin Tarantino, who was doing a Q&A for Reservoir Dogs, speaking to actress Julie Christie and literally bumping into Lauren Bacall in the cafe.

"As a iconic venue, it will be missed - it has been the beating heart of popular culture in Manchester for the last thirty years.

"Farewell and thank you for all the memories, old friend."

It's "one of the most interesting, challenging, exciting and fun places to work in the arts", said Mr Moutrey.

"A large and distinctive group of contemporary artists and filmmakers have brought their ideas and work to our visitors.

"There is no other programme or place like Cornerhouse in the UK [and] we will continue and grow."

Home, which boasts two theatres and five cinema screens, officially opens on 21 May, following a preview show in the building by the Hofesh Shechter Company in the last weekend of April.

Its patrons include Oscar-winning filmmaker Danny Boyle, the National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner, actress Suranne Jones, playwright and poet Jackie Kay and artist Rosa Barba.

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