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MediaCity 2023 round-up

2023, a year punctuated with successful announcements and launches, alongside an abundance of creativity, culture and innovation!

From hosting its first festival to delivering the largest food hall in Salford, and with the BBC announcing more content output from our creative and digital hub – 2023, has been a year punctuated with successful announcements and launches.

Festival vibes arrive

A mid-year highlight was MediaCity’s inaugural We Invented the Weekend (WITW) festival which brought in over 60,000 visitors to our creative, digital and tech destination – many from the local communities on MediaCity’s doorstep. The sun shone on Salfordians that weekend. It was a true testament to how an acorn of an idea – to host an entirely free festival celebrating Salford, its people, its culture and the weekend – a worldwide cultural phenomena which was born in this City, can become a reality.

It was down to the tenacity, passion and commitment of its founding partners MediaCity, The Lowry, Quays Culture, HemingwayDesign and Salford City Council which brought together more than 160 event and content partners – from household names, such as BBC, RHS and Sounds From The Other, to a plethora of community-run organisations. WITW put on over 200 free activities for visitors as the cost-of-living crisis was at its peak. Hailed for generating ‘incredible social value’ by Mayor of Salford, Paul Dennett it delivered a total impact of more than £3.2 million* for the local economy.

There’s a commitment to build on this legacy for 2024 – further cementing MediaCity as a leading waterfront, cultural hub in the North. More announcements are set to follow in the new year.

Community at its heart

Making a place, beyond a cluster of buildings, is where the passion lies for the foreseeable future. Our commitment to Salford City Council’s Salford 2030 vision of creating a town centre provision with Quayside at the epicentre has gathered pace this year.

A £5 million investment into Quayside’s southern waterfront, with views that take in the iconic landmarks of Old Trafford, the Imperial War Museum North and Coronation Street’s revered studios has transformed this formerly under-utilised stretch of waterway into a thriving independent food and drink destination.

Central Bay was born in September this year, anchored by Kargo Mkt which hosts 20 kitchens championing rising stars from the local culinary scene. It has been a runaway success with over 600,000 customer transactions logged to date, boosting the local economy and giving a platform to talented start-ups.

While Salford family run brewing institution Seven Bro7hers further cemented their commitment to MediaCity after launching 11 Central in Central Bay. It’s the first time the seven brewing brothers have partnered with their gin distilling sisters to provide a microbrewery, gin bar and pub concept.

Charitable partnerships

Elsewhere in Quayside, Peel Media’s partnership with Salford Loading has brought in local independent traders such as Flock and Gaggle and the young persons’ creative arts charity INNIT for Young People (IN4YPC). Since launching their unit in June this year – the team headed by charity CEO Micky Dacks has brought 2500 people into their new creative hub including, almost 1000 children up to the age of 15 who have taken part in open access arts and crafts sessions and art-based workshops. After seeing the talent being produced a ‘Wall of Wonderfulness’ was launched which exhibits pieces by its growing roster of community artists from as young as eight to 80 with pieces sold to the public. In a short space of time, the hub has evolved to become a safe space for a number of young mentees between the ages of 11 and 16 while providing volunteering opportunities for a number of older teenagers.

Repositioning of Quayside

As Peel gradually re-shapes Quayside MediaCity into a town centre offering in line with Salford City Council’s 2030 vision its potential is attracting national interest. Charity Super.Mkt, the UK’s first multi-charity pre-loved fashion store earmarked Quayside for its first outlet in the North. Initially due to open for six weeks in the run up to Christmas, its residency has been extended to February 2024 following record sales. The fashion concept has so far sold more than 6,500 items to the tune of £52,000, with proceeds going to Age UK, All Aboard, Emmaus, Havens Hospices, Together Trust, and St Vincent de Paul.

Business thrives

While the investment in Quayside has elevated MediaCity’s food and drink offer for its growing number of residents and workers there has been significant investment within the core estate.

Earlier this year, MediaCity expanded its flexible workspace offer – ARRIVE, from its original base in White Tower across to the Blue and Tomorrow buildings while completing a major refurbishment of the spaces and rebranding the ARRIVE concept to reflect its overhaul. The concept which appeals to SMEs within the creative, tech and digital sectors as well as those supporting them has been in high demand with 13 new occupiers steadily joining throughout the year while award winning audio production company Audio Always and Planisware have continued to expand here.

A living lab

In March this year, funding was secured from Innovate UK enabling the launch of MediaCity’s Immersive Technologies Innovation Hub – the Greater Manchester innovation cluster for immersive tech, virtual production, esports and gametech at MediaCity.

Officially getting off the ground in early December the project has created a people-centred innovation hub at MediaCity, strengthening Salford and Greater Manchester’s digital and creative economy, supporting frontier sectors, and seizing opportunities arising from the new digital era of the metaverse and web3. Watch this space.

A broadcasting hub

Later this year the BBC announced plans to boost its weekday BBC One news coverage from MediaCity, by extending BBC Breakfast and launching a new one hour-long News at One bulletin creating 20 jobs. News at One joins an impressive line-up of major BBC brands already broadcasting from MediaCity, including BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 5 Live. It’s also good news for local listeners as more content will be delivered by presenters based at BBC Radio Manchester to meet the demand for more in depth local news and features.

Spotlight on dock10

As home to the UK’s leading television facility it’s been an exciting year for dock10. Some highlights in a nutshell include:

  • Mary Earps voted BBC Sports Personality World Sport Star of the Year live from dock10 studio HQ1 in the 70th anniversary show.
  • The Junior Eurovision Song Contest with BBC Radio 1 DJ Lauren Layfield and singer HRVY as the UK commentators, followed the excitement of the contest live from dock10.
  • BBC Children in Need beamed three-hours of comedy, music and surprise guests live.
  • Iconic game show Wheel of Fortune will return to ITV hosted by BAFTA award winner Graham Norton.
  • Deal Or No Deal aired on ITV1 and ITVX with new host Stephen Mulhern.
  • Joel Dommett is set to host a brand new, high octane game show, produced by Expectation, where contestants are challenged to shout at the TV to win a fortune.

The future

As culture, creativity and a strong sense of place continue to build at MediaCity, joint venture partners Peel Media and Landsec are committed to its continued growth and prosperity. In October, Salford City Council gave the green light for a public consultation to take place on a draft regeneration framework for MediaCity which has the potential to bring over 3,000 new homes, more business opportunities across circa 75,000 sq metres as well as unparalleled access to employment, retail, leisure and recreation and would create four distinct zones:

  • The Media Quarter
  • The Waterfront and Gateway
  • The Living Hub
  • The Culture and Community Hub

A decision following the consultation is expected in the first quarter of 2024.

Talent pipeline

And while MediaCity is always looking ahead it has welcomed another educational establishment this year with the opening of the University Campus of Football Business (UCFB). UCFB is one of the world’s leading higher education establishments for the football and sports industry and brings an additional 1000 students to the MediaCity campus – further securing a new generation of talent. The presence of The University of Salford and UCFB fed by the UTC, Oasis Academy Future Skills underpins the future success of MediaCity and secures the next generation of talent.

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