Sports field with goal posts and houses in the distance

Greater Manchester sets out plan to ensure culture sector recovers from COVID-19

Greater Manchester has set out its plan to ensure the culture sector is supported as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GM Culture Recovery ‘Plan, Protect, Restore, Heal, Grow’, will draw on all available resources to support the sector over the next twelve months, taking forward some of the learnings of the past year, including significant digital advances to widen access to culture, and a greater love and pride in our local places and cultural and heritage assets.

The plan has three main strands that will guide GMCA’s work with the sector over the coming year:

Digital Developments

Digital developments necessitated by COVID-19 have opened-up new ways of working, new local, national and global audiences and partnerships, and will provide new solutions to long-standing problems.

GMCA will prioritise digital development and delivery in the first six months of 2021, before moving to a hybrid model, when restrictions allow, through two trailblazing digital projects, United We Stream and GM Creative Connections.

Coming Together

Over the next six months, as we start to emerge from the pandemic, we will be able to start to think about what we lost while living through lockdown, including the enjoyment of collective experiences.

This desire for collective experiences, combined with the decline of the traditional high street and the need to attract people back to our town and city centres provides us with an exciting opportunity to use culture to bring vibrancy back to our places and bring people together in joyous shared experiences.

We will focus our activity in this area in two key ways: delivery of the inaugural Town of Culture in Bury and planning for the second iteration of the event and through our Creative Improvement District framework.


GMCA recognises the need to find ways to make sense of the unprecedented events of 2020 and 2021 and start to heal, individually and collectively, from what has been a terrible time.

We will develop and deliver schemes and programmes that support the physical and mental health of our residents and that start the healing process, that will last for many years to come.

The Greater Manchester Culture Recovery plan will be delivered with local, national and international partners and with the 35 organisations in the GM Culture Portfolio, including The Halle, HOME, Octagon Theatre, The Met and Oldham Coliseum.

The plan will see organisations continue to deliver their vital work and will be supported to unlock and provide physical creative opportunities for residents in Greater Manchester.

They will also be asked to focus delivery in the following areas:

  • Providing paid employment for artists and freelancers
  • Providing activity for Greater Manchester residents, especially in relation to mental health, education physical health and reducing inequality
  • Working with and in our high streets, town centres and city centres

As well as the Greater Manchester Culture Portfolio organisations, the plan will be supported by the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities; strategic partners including Marketing Manchester and Arts Council England; and a range of cultural organisations and individuals from across the city-region.

Greater Manchester’s lead for culture, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: “Despite incredibly difficult circumstances, cultural organisations across Greater Manchester have made a remarkable contribution to our response to the pandemic.

“In Greater Manchester throughout the pandemic we have worked hard to support as many people and organisations in the culture sector as possible through work such as the GM COVID-19 Creative Commissions, the £583,300 raised through United We Stream and the establishment of the Night Time Economy Office.

“This can’t stop now though. While there is hope ahead with the vaccine rollout proceeding well and the roadmap out of the current lockdown being released last month, there is still a long way to go for many cultural organisations before they can reopen fully.

“The culture sector itself will play a key role in Greater Manchester’s recovery – supporting residents’ physical and mental health, helping them make sense of the impacts of the pandemic, increasing confidence to return to our high streets and city centres and bringing life and vibrancy to our public spaces.

“This is why we must continue to support them over the coming months.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “It’s vital we make sure we support our culture sector to recover from the pandemic so it can then help us as we ourselves all recover from the past 12 months.

“As we unlock our economy, gradually and safely, these organisations will be key in attracting local, national and international visitors back to Greater Manchester, ensuring we maintain our global reputation as a centre of creative excellence, and encouraging use of our brilliant hospitality businesses, from hotels and restaurants to bars and cafes.

“I want to thank everyone in our culture sector for all of their efforts including putting a much-needed smile on people’s faces during these difficult months.

“I hope I speak for everyone in Greater Manchester when I say how much I am looking forward to the day our theatres, galleries, museums and music venues re-open their doors and welcome us all in once more.”

Notes to Editors

You can read the Greater Manchester Culture Recovery Plan 2021/22 here

The plan builds on the GM Culture Recovery Plan 2020/21 and complements the GM Night Time Economy COVID-19 Recovery Blueprint, developed and delivered by the GM Night Time Economy office and GM Night Time Economy Adviser Sacha Lord.

In February 2020, it was announced 35 organisations would receive grants from the Greater Manchester Culture Fund. These organisations now make up the GM Culture Portfolio. The grants worth £8.5million operate over a two year period from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2022. You can find out more here:

In 2020 the first round of COVID-19 Creative Commissions were rewarded to 60 successful recipients to provide paid opportunities for creatives in Greater Manchester. Find out more here:

Article Published: 22/03/2021 12:05 PM