13-Aug-14by Annie Byrne
Coronation Street, Cracker, ITV’s recent Fever Pitch show celebrating the 2014 World Cup. And even a pre-Magaluf pepper spray Jeremy Kyle. The Old Granada Studios (OGS) may have played host to some of the biggest shows on our TV screens, but now the venue is switching on to a new future as part of a venture between owner Allied London and Manchester City Council. Allied London officially took control of the Granada site in the Spinningfields area of the city on 21 May, after announcing back in September 2013 that they would be acquiring the 13.5 acre site in a joint venture with Manchester Council as part of the regeneration of the city centre.According to Allied London commercial director Andrea George, the aim is to create a new cultural and arts neighbourhood in the heart of the city.Manchester Piccadilly Station, Manchester Oxford Road, Deansgate and Salford Central are all a 10-minute walk away.“The footprint is vast at 13,000sqm, 12 high spec sound proofed TV studios, the huge exposed brick, six floored Bonded Warehouse and highly versatile outdoor spaces,” George said.Playing to the galleryHolden Media is hosting the first exhibition at the venue, the Buy Art Fair, on 25-29 September. The show will be held across 5,000sqm in four studios, the venue’s M1 space and the Construction Workshop. It was previously held at the National Football Museum.“It means a lot for the city of Manchester,” said Thom Hetherington, chief executive of Holden Media. “In the past, the centre of the city had been quite poorly served by exhibitions. Manchester Central and EventCity are very big venues. But if you are doing a more creative, niche, entrepreneurial boutique show there hasn’t been anywhere to take your show.”Hetherington compared the venue to Old Billingsgate or Business Design Centre in London. Other exhibitions and large-scale events set to take place at the venue in its first year include the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair and Urban Markets.
Finding a nicheGeorge believes the venue has an important part to play for smaller, entrepreneurial exhibitions in the Lancashire city. “OGS’ versatility, strong identity and cultural history provides a fantastic platform for small operators to flourish. The vision for OGS is to grow and develop the region’s independent and startup exhibitor and events community – we want to build the site collaboratively and serve the fast emerging live event industry,” she said. On a regional scale, she sees fitting into a gap in the North West market. “Our position within the Manchester market lies between the large scale ‘mega’ events space for example, Manchester Central and the small, conventional hotel conference spaces in the city centre,” she added. “OGS provides character, location and scalability to mid to small business as well as the infrastructure, facilities and footprint for internationally renowned clients. Our versatility and inspirational spaces will appeal to the mass market alongside independent, leftfield business and agencies in search of engaging, city centre spaces.” For a new exhibition site steeped in TV history, there will be no need for exhibition organisers to screen this venue’s credentials before bringing a show there.