Partisan Collective: The First Six Months

Over the last six months Partisan Collective has carved out a much-needed independent space for grassroots community action, DIY art and culture in Manchester.

We met in the backroom of a pub on a wet Saturday in February but by May, fundraising gigs and parties in support of Partisan were popping up around the city and we had collaborated with Basement Gigs Manchester, SLUT DROP x Force Majeure and had an Elevator day party. These events drew diverse audiences and growing interest and support for the project.

In May, Partisan moved into a temporary residence at 3Space, in an abandoned office building in the heart of the city. We threw an all-day event ‘Manchester: City of Queer Hope’ to launch the space and celebrate street artist Faith47’s new mural in support of LGBT+ rights as part of the CitiesofHope 9 day convention. This event saw Partisan host a panel discussion on the role of art for queer(ing) politics and activism, a screening of “Screaming Queens: the Riot at Compton’s” and a riotous night of drag and disco inspired by The Simpsons and hosted by Charlotte Davies and Marilyn Misandry of Thirsty Girls.

A wide range of community groups have been using the temporary Partisan space for meetings, training and organising, including: Cities of Hope, Greater Manchester Housing Action, Ladyfest Manchester, Manchester People’s Assembly, New Economy Organiser’s Network (NEON), Picket the Profiteers, Another Europe is Possible, MCR Radical Mental Health, Manchester Punk Festival, Global Justice Now, Steady State, Manchester Friends of Kurdistan, Manchester Film Co-op, Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Manchester No Prisons, Left Unity, Dear Friend, Manchester and Trafford Momentum.

This shows how valuable a permanent Partisan space will be to the activists and arts communities of Manchester. The connections built across these wide ranging networks allow Partisan to reach a greater number of people and offer exciting opportunities for future collaborative work.

Partisan’s temporary 3Space residence has provided a free, accessible and non-commercial space for artists to develop and showcase work – a rare thing in the city. Javier Camanas, Hilary O’Mahony and Nicholas Pierce have all held exhibitions of their work.

Theatre groups such as the Take Back Theatre Company have used the space for rehearsals.

Many local bands and touring musicians have seized the opportunity and held gigs and performances at the space;

Sprank and Shireen both from the Netherlands filled Partisan with political folk, klesma, crisis folk and cake for the afternoon in July.

The incredible G Bop Orchestra chose Partisan as the location for their Manchester tour dates.

Another packed day-festival included music by Elena, DOG SEX, Lavender, The Showers and Thirsty Girls Collective; Spoken word from Kid Vicious and Niall Smee; And art exhibited by Norton Robinson, Evan Soule, Jasper Clough, Sam Frost and Josh Bentley.

Social events like the clothes, records and books swap, skill-shares and regular film screenings have been well attended and attracted different crowds.

Alongside this inspiring array of events, having a physical space from which to meet and organise, Partisan Collective has solidified, growing as a unique force in the city, finding its identity and developing its collective skills through workshops and skillshares.

What has been achieved in the months since our group’s inception reinforces how important it is for Partisan to have a permanent home. We aim to build on what we’ve learned by setting up a workers co-op, running a bar and entertainment venue, providing a truly independent, accessible and grassroots community space for Manchester.

What’s next for us? Partisan are currently crowdfunding on Spacehive. Anything you can give will help us to secure a permanent space so we can continue to grow and develop in 2017!

Launch Party: whatever it amounts to

Guests looking at Hilary's art

Last Friday saw the launch of Partisan’s first stand-alone exhibition and it was swell to see so many faces there! 

The fantastic and incredibly lovely Hilary O’Mahony took residency in the fourth floor space from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th July with her thought-provoking exhibition whatever it amounts to’ 

Made in response to an overwhelmingly large number of discarded scratch cards in Southern Manchester, Hilary explored value, identity and self-pursuit in collecting and de-contextualising these found objects. To cite her own words on the exhibition: “The lottery is an emotionally charged game. It creates many conflicting feelings, most notably luck, hope and disappointment…it positions the national lottery as a lens through which [these] societal concepts are explored”.

On the launch night, we had a pay-what-you-can bar, music, tote bags for sale, highly ad hoc furniture, a good dose of mood lighting and reams of captivating conversation. Hilary was on site at Partisan HQ all weekend to discuss the works with all visitors and it was an all-round good-vibes experience!

We are also very lucky to have caught her as she moves back to Ireland this week. We wish her all the best with the move and if you are based in Éire, keep your eyes peeled for her name in any galleries or arts centres! 

In the meantime, do visit her website – it’s got some great photos of the pieces included in whatever it amounts to and you can check out her work from past exhibitions as well.

Taking a Moment to Reflect

When you’re involved with any kind of grassroots campaign or community group, it can be hard to find the time and space to reflect on how much you’ve achieved. We’re constantly looking ahead. When’s the next meeting? The next fundraiser? The next deadline?

But reflection is such a valuable tool. Looking back at successes and achievements is reinvigorating and provides a huge boost to morale. Taking the time to discuss any problems that you’ve encountered is also worthwhile, and can make the path ahead clearer.

As June comes to a close, so we are taking a moment to reflect on what Partisan has achieved over the last month.

The main focus for Partisan has been fundraising for our permanent space. Following a fantastic event at the Cities of Hope festival in May, we started off our fundraising efforts for June at Islington Mill with SLUT DROP x Force Majeure. It was great to be able to let our collective hair down and we partied into the early hours!

The next weekend we put on a clothes, record, and book swap at 3space. The day was topped off with delicious homemade cakes and our resident Partisan DJs playing some tunes.

clothing rails full of dresses and other clothes

Just a few of the clothes from the SWAP fundraising event

And the weekend after that was the Elevator Day fundraiser at Fallow Café, which was another successful and fabulous party. Looking back, we’ve been pretty busy with fundraising! And that’s sure to continue over the rest of the summer.

Having a boogie at the Elevator Day party

Having a boogie at the Elevator Day party

At the beginning of the month we had just about settled in to our temporary space at 3space Manchester. Since then, our meeting space has been used by so many wonderful groups: Manchester Radical Mental Health, Ladyfest Manchester, Manchester Punk Festival, Greater Manchester Housing Action, Picket the Profiteers, and Manchester People’s Assembly Committee.

Our temporary space has been getting a lot of use!

Our temporary space has been getting a lot of use!

The demand from this huge range of groups goes to show how valuable an established Partisan space would be to the artists, creatives and communites of Manchester.

It’s been heartening and inspiring for us to look back at our events calendar and see so many names there. We’ll be continuing to work towards securing a permanent space for these groups – and many more – to come together and create.

If you want to get involved with creating a much-needed DIY space in Manchester, come along to our next general meeting. Partisan will be meeting at 3space this Saturday (July 2nd) and will meet on the first Saturday of the month from now on. We hope to see you soon!