WHO WE ARE
NIAMOS is a group of local residents and community volunteers who have managed the building located in the heart of Hulme for the past five years - providing access to spaces and facilities to create, learn, dance and share. Our mission is to preserve the heritage of the Nia Centre and Playhouse Theatre, by keeping the building and the Arts it facilitates accessible to all communities, all ages and capabilities.
THE BUILDING'S HISTORY
The NIA Centre run by NIAMOS is a historic theatre in the heart of Hulme. Built at the turn of the century and opened in 1902 - It's one of the oldest theatres in Manchester! And one of the last two standing W.H. Broadhead theatres still in use. Broadhead championed accessibility in the arts and designed the building to resemble a factory from the outside with the aim of helping working class audiences feel at home.
The theatre was taken over by BBC in 1956 and became the BBC Soundstage North where The Beatles first live radio performance was broadcast from. It was then opened as The Nia Centre, by Nina Simone, in 1991 and became the first African and Caribbean-led theatre in Europe. It was an important artistic and activist hub for the community and local residents until it closed in 1997. Over the years a number of well known music hall, variety and comedy performers, have performed at the theatre. The building was also later used as a studio by the Northern Dance Orchestra.
WHAT WE DO
During this time we have curated iconic events and performances which have celebrated Manchesters rich and diverse cultural and conscious arts scene such as - Royal Reggae Street party, Untold Orchestra, Letsby Avenue, Groovanometry, Propa Top of the Pops, and Snow White's Privilege.
We have also been host to some of the cities trailblazers in events, culture and nightlife - Manchester International Festival events, Unconvention, Hit n Run, So flute, and S!CK festival.
Ku’umba runs a community music studio as part of NIAMOS which is accessible to local musicians, young people and established artists. They also facilitate drop-in workshops on music production, live recording and song writing.
We set up NiaTV, an online TV channel, which commissioned artists and local residents to create their own TV shows and learn about filmmaking and editing with access to our equipment. Starvin Artists, a commission for local artists is another example of our involvement in grass roots Arts in Manchester.
In collaboration with local practitioners and community members, we currently deliver 9 live music events, 24 workshops, 1 spoken word event, 4 choir groups, and 8 martial arts classes on a monthly basis. We also facilitate two carnival troupes all year round, and weekly children's drama classes and dance classes.
The majority of these activities are free of charge and we estimate that in total nearly 800 people attend these events every month, including around 300 children and young people.
We want to expand our offer to everyone in our local community by extending our opening hours and being accessible in the colder months.
We need help to be able to keep all the incredible projects that happen in the building going and make sure the space stays open as a hub for the Hulme community and beyond! We need to honour the important legacy of this renowned venue, still independent in the heart of Manchester, and not let another cultural institution be turned into flats.
We want to make sure the building stays open as much as possible over winter and improve the equipment that local and young artists have access to through us, including music production, sound and lighting engineering, arts workshops, film and media production and acting classes.
The building is in desperate need of repair and a heating system which we currently do not have at all! Alongside all of this, the running costs of the building and the rising cost of living mean we are under pressure this winter. We rely on volunteer support to run and host events for our community and our voluntary members have worked extremely hard to keep the building afloat, but our members cannot give as much of their time as we need and with the challenge of a cold and leaking building we are in need of help to save this space from closing down!!
When the current directorship took over the running of the building they also took on significant debts, this has meant we have been two steps forward and one step back. Despite all the hardwork of the people who have been running the space voluntarily we need help over the quieter winter months. We need to stay open long enough to apply for further funding bids, including long term support from the Heritage Lottery fund, as we are a grade II listed building. We have an amazing programme of events and projects we want to put on this year that will build on sustaining us financially and provide opportunities for community artists and creatives.
Keeping this building open and functional is of great importance for Hulme and the surrounding areas communities; we need your help! Developing heating solutions and doing necessary repairs in the building will enable us to stay open during the colder months and help us with our aim of making the building more conscious and sustainable.