Deaf Institute and Gorilla: ‘Hope’ for closed Manchester music venues

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Gorilla has hosted a vast array of acts, including Mercury Prize nominee Laura Mvula

There is “hope” two popular music venues in Manchester could be saved, the city’s night-time economy advisor has said.

Mission Mars, which runs Deaf Institute and Gorilla, announced the “difficult decision” to close them on Thursday.

Sacha Lord said it had been a “dark day” for the city but he had “received interest from potential buyers”.

Musicians shared their distress at the news, including The Charlatans’ singer Tim Burgess, who said it was “awful”.

In an announcement on Thursday, Mission Mars chief executive Roy Ellis said the decision had been made “against the backdrop of Covid-19 and the enforced closure of all of our sites and with continued restrictions upon opening of live music venues”.

Mr Lord, who works with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham to support the area’s entertainment sector, said at the time the announcement was “not the end of it”.

He said he had been contacted by seven “solid operators” interested in the venues and he is “confident they will reopen” and had written to Mission Mars “asking them to share with me the sale details”.

Mission Mars has been approached for comment.

Burgess, who has played both venues, was one of a number of musicians to post on social media about the closures.

His tweet was echoed by singer-songwriters Frank Turner and Lucy Spraggan, and New Order bass player Tom Chapman.

Music fans also contacted the BBC to share their upset at the closures.

Douglas Paul Rainwater said losing the Deaf Institute was “heartbreaking and an utter blow to smaller, new and emerging bands and artists”, while Steve Scrivener said Gorilla’s intimacy created “spiritual experiences” and was “a vital platform for the music industry’s eco-system”.

Kate Blaszczyk said in a tweet: “Two brilliant venues, what a loss for the city”, while Paul Robinson said it was “absolutely shocking news”.

Melissa Buckler Smith said she felt like she’d “lost two old friends” and said: “My heart breaks for the staff and for music fans.”

The Deaf Institute and Gorilla

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Getty Images

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Tom Walker at the Deaf Institute

  • Housed in the Grade II-listed former home of the Manchester Deaf and Dumb Institute, which was built in 1878, the Deaf Institute in Grosvenor Street opened as a three-storey bar, cafe and 300-capacity venue in 2008.
  • In 2012, Gorilla took over a venue originally called The Green Room, created in the railway arches below Manchester’s Oxford Road Station, opening as a bar, restaurant and 600-capacity performance space.
  • Since opening, the two venues have hosted a huge number of shows, including some from acts who have since gone on to major success, including The 1975, Florence & The Machine, Sam Smith, Tame Impala and Childish Gambino.

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