Manchester Culture Awards: the award-winning best festivals, events and performers named

The awards celebrating culture and arts in the city returned after a two-year gap.

Best Event Together in One Voice - Rose Marley & Dan McDwyer with partners the Co-op, Manchester City Council, Manchester International Festival and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Credit: Mark Waugh

Manchester Culture Awards have been handed out to a worthy range of winners following a tough spell for the city’s arts and entertainment scene.

The awards were introduced by the city council in 2018 to honour Manchester’s vibrant cultural scene but haven’t been held since 2019 due to the impact of the pandemic.

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They were announced following 300 nominations made and were presented at a ceremony in Manchester.

Hosts Keisha Thompson, and Annabel Tiffin Credit: Mark Waugh

The 2021 shortlist is below with the winners in italics:

Best Event House Party - HOME, Venture Arts and Drake Music

Together in One Voice - Rose Marley & Dan McDwyer with partners the Co-op, Manchester City Council, Manchester International Festival and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Our City Speaks - Contact and Manchester City of Literature

Peterloo 2019 - Manchester Histories

Black Gold Arts Festival with Contact

Best Exhibition

The Manchester Open - HOME

Grayson’s Art Club - Manchester Art Gallery

Disrupt? Peterloo & Protest Exhibition - People’s History Museum

50 Windows of Creativity - Wild in Art

School of Integration - Manchester International Festival

Grayson Perry and Philippa Perry in the Grayson’s Art Club exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery Credit: Andrew Brooks

Best Performance Sirocco - Manchester Collective

Untold Caroline - Manchester Camerata

RENT - Hope Mill Theatre

The Long Goodbye - Riz Ahmed and Manchester International Festival

The Shadow - Company Chameleon

Creative Care in COVID-19 (individual) Andy Barry

Mark Fisher

Kate Bradnam

Meg Parnell

Lydia Burke

Creative Care in COVID-19 (organisation)


Creative Care Kits Coalition

Manchester Camerata

Venture Arts

The Edge Theatre

Promotion of Culture and Education Trapped in the Museum - People’s History Museum

Read Manchester - Manchester Libraries

Halle Connect

Black History Workshops - Big People Music Ltd

Culture Feast - Manchester Enterprise Academy, Include Group

Best Business Partnership

Cultural Hardship Fund for Freelancers - Savannah Wisdom Foundation with B&M Retail Ltd, HOME & Manchester City Council

Cargill and the Halle Inspire Programme

Electricity North West and Manchester International Festival

Auto Trader & HOME

Best Business Partnership L-R Keisha Thompson, Vice Lord-Lieutenant, winner Hardship Fund and Annabel Tiffin Credit: Mark Waugh

Promotion of Environmental Sustainability

Science and Industry Museum

Reform Radio

HOME Manchester

Manchester Day ream - Manchester City Council and Walk the Plank

Promotion of Equality and Social Justice

Digifest 2020 - Manchester Histories

Sadia Habib

GFF Damian Dance Studio

Young People’s Forum - Manchester International Festival

Making Manchester - Olympias Music Foundation

GFF Damian Dance

Promotion of Health and Wellbeing

Sound Up Arts

Mark Fisher

Halle Workplace Choir



Promotion of Talent and Leadership

Assistant Conductor Scheme - Halle Concerts Society

The Factory Academy - Manchester International Festival

Brighter Sound

Barinur Rashid - Manchester Museum

Jane Lawson - Castlefield Gallery

Young Creative of the Year

Fang Zhang

Lydia Kinowski-Don

Princess Arinola Adegbite

Thameena Alam

Olivia Lee

The Manchester People’s Culture Award

The Old Abbey Taphouse

Joseph Houston and William Whelton

Sharon Raymond

Reform Radio

Gorton Visual Arts

The awards this year also included two special recognition awards presented by the judges to two individuals who have made a huge contribution to culture and creativity in the city over a number of years.

The first of the awards went to Sarah Frankcom. During her 20 years at the Royal Exchange theatre, first as literary manager, then as joint Artistic Director, then as sole Artistic Director, Sarah changed the face of the iconic cultural institution.

The second of the two awards went to Christine Cort, a founding member of Manchester International Festival. She was recognised for delivering impact locally, nationally and internationally – helping to put Manchester on the global arts and cultural map and providing a support and mentoring for many colleagues and young creatives.