Six months ago, 2022nq was just another forgotten Manchester basement. This weekend, it springs into life as a brand new creative space for the Northern Quarter, enriching the city's cultural offering with an exciting programme of events, arts and exhibitions.
Housed in the bowels of 20 Dale Street, a building which is already home to many creative and fashion led businesses, the clean, white interior of 2022nq comes as somewhat of a surprise on first entry. Far from the dark storage area that it once was, 2022nq is now a vast, bright and adaptable space with original Victorian tiling (white, of course), industrial pillars (also white) and state of the art facilities that lend themselves to all kinds of events, from theatre productions to club nights.
We spoke Jamie Scahill, one of the creative brains behind 2022nq, to find out what we can expect from Manchester's newest venue.
Hi Jamie, first of all, what is 2022nq?
2022NQ is a licensed multi use creative space for hire in the heart of the Northern Quarter.
Who is behind it and how/why did you come together and decide to open this venue?
There are five of us behind the space, all with vast event and marketing experience picked up from running club nights and events over the past 15 years. Myself and Keith Griffiths run Funkademia, Neil Scott and Steve Johnson run El Diablos Social Club and Pop Til You Drop and Tunji Oyewobi runs Mint Lounge.
Where did the name come from?
We have a 10 year plan for the space so it seemed to fit, and it's also the official address!
The venue is a really interesting space - how did you find it and what was it before?
Myself and Keith (Griffiths) met the landlord whilst looking for an event space last May. He showed us the basement and we told him our vision. It fits perfectly with the tenants of the building as they are all fashion and creative led, the landlord wanted something much more than a bar or restaurant in there. It has always just been used as a storage area for the building so it was a perfect blank canvas for us.
Tell us about the refurbishment - has it been a big project?
It's not been a massive refurbishment as we want to keep it as adaptable as possible for clients who want to hire it. Putting toilets, a staircase and a bar in have been the biggest work.
What challenges, if any, have you come across in getting the venue open?
Because it is in the basement of an office block it didn't have its own entrance. This caused us a few challenges, with the biggest being opening up an old lift shaft and installing a new staircase. We've done 75% of the work ourselves so juggling other work as well as staying focussed has been a challenge as well, but it's well worth it.
The events programme looks like a real mixed bag of live music, club nights, exhibitions and other things. Are you planning on focusing on one kind of event in particular or is the aim to keep things eclectic?
The main objective of 2022nq is for it to be used as people want. This is why it is mainly white and we can change lighting, furniture and layout of the venue to suit. Events so far have been music led but all of them have an element of either an exhibition or networking to them. Future events include theatre productions, art curation space for MMU students, a fashion industry recruitment day and a number of product launches.
The focus on arts and learning rather than just music/events seems to be important. Why is this?
It would be easy to just open another bar with DJs on, but the original vision of myself and Keith was to assist young creatives of all genres to learn and connect. This is why we have workshops, networking events and talks planned to young creatives see 2022nq as a hub for learning as well as socialising with like minded people.
Will there be any regular nights at the venue?
There will be a regular DJ night once a month, with Horse Meat Disco being the first guests on the 21st April. We will be launching the 'After Work Social Club' in May which will encourage the creative community to let their hair down and mingle after work every Friday night. We have Table Tennis tables and a Fussball table, so we're trying to invent a 21st century version of the old social club!
What will 2022nq bring to Manchester's event scene? How is it different from other venues in the city?
The main difference is that the venue is open to hire at the weekend. We've spoken to so many people who hold events and their only option to hire a space on a Friday or Saturday night is a hotel. This is not ideal for the cooler underground events, so hopefully we will plug this gap.
What sort of facilities do you have in terms of sound and lighting?
We have a full in house sound system and a bigger rig can be hired in if a client needs it. That's the same with lighting as well.
What kind of events is the venue available to hire for?
2022nq is available for a large range of events including exhibitions and gallery space, film screenings, fashion shows, location filming studio, comedy and spoken word events, creative workshops, music events, pop-up retail events and networking events. There could be lots more, I'm sure once people see the space we will be approached for a larger range of events.
What is your ultimate aim for 2022nq?
We want 2022nq to be seen as a creative hub for the Northern Quarter and Manchester. We want people to use the space to meet and connect to like minded people. Ultimately we want it be a venue that you could go to seven days a week and each time you would see it change through decor and the style of events.
Thanks Jamie, looking forward to the launch!
2022nq launches this Thursday with a press and VIP launch, before opening to the public on Friday 13th (oo err) of April with the launch of Matthew Comer's fashion exhibition, 'Wallin'. Saturday night then sees the venue host the launch of Thirty One Live; a compilation album of Manchester artists old and new to raise funds for CALM.
Take a look at the full programme of upcoming events at 2022nq