Cornerhouse is located in the heart of Manchester’s cultural corridor on Oxford Road, housing three floors of contemporary art galleries, three screens showing the best of independent cinema, a bar, café and a bookshop.
Since it opened in 1985, Cornerhouse has been at the forefront of Manchester’s vibrant cultural scene. In 2008 it launched its five-year project, The Art of With, in anticipation of increasingly challenging conditions facing the UK arts industry. The project explores new ways of working with artists, curators and audiences, and embraces principles of open source and collective intelligence. This unique approach to the production and curation of the contemporary visual arts involves engaging a range of stakeholders including freelance curators, young people, artists of all levels and several higher education partners. Now at the halfway mark, The Art of With has proved not only prescient but hugely successful; Cornerhouse’s visual arts audience has doubled and they are now working with more artists than ever before, developing local curators and significantly contributing to both academic research and official cultural policy. This innovative approach programming has produced recent critically acclaimed exhibitions Unrealised Potential, Artur Zmijewski and Contemporary Art Iraq (also curated by Cornerhouse).
Cornerhouse was conceived by the Greater Manchester Visual Arts Trust, chaired by Sir Bob Scott. It opened with the support of the then Greater Manchester County Council and Manchester City Council, North West Arts Association (now part of Arts Council England) and the British Film Institute.
Over its 25 year history it has played host to the UK premiere of Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and was the first UK public gallery to commission work from Damien Hirst. Cornerhouse continues to be a key cultural and social hub for the city of Manchester and its visitors.
Cornerhouse also operates an international distribution service for contemporary visual arts books and catalogues, working with over 95 publishers including Arnofini, BALTIC, British Council Visual Arts and Design Publications, Hayward Gallery Publishing, the Henry Moore institute, ICA, The Lowry, Modern Art Oxford, Photoworks and Picture This.
The café bar has traditionally been an unofficial meeting point for those interested in pop culture and emerging new scenes; for example, it was where the Factory Records members and their friends would spend time before a night at the Hacienda.