The Met

Explore one of Manchester's award-winning live music venues

By Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

The Met (21st Century) by Dan EdenGreater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

Listen to Victoria Robinson, the first female Chief Executive of The Met, talking about the unique role the venue plays in the cultural life of Bury, Manchester

The Met (21st Century) by Dan EdenGreater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

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How was The Met founded?

It was founded in 1979 and it moved into the current building it’s in now in 1980. As far as I’m aware, it was founded by a community group who wanted to take over the Derby Hall, as it was then, and make it an arts space for performing arts primarily. 

We’re the only venue in Bury and we serve that whole area. There’s a lot of culture in Bury, so we’re quite lucky. You’ve got the Art Gallery and Sculpture Centre, The Fusilier Museum, the heritage railway, East Lancs Railway, so having a venue gives us a unique cultural pull. 

The Met (21st Century) by Dan EdenGreater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

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How does it differ from the venues in Manchester?

We’ve got a different social remit really. We offer a programme of events, but we have a wider social value use. The Met itself is unique and it’s like an ecology, so it can help the development of artists. We have a smaller studio, a larger theatre and then we’ve got a recording studio at the back and we run a festival as well, so we can help artists from the very beginning basically and then they develop their craft and then they go onto much, much bigger things. 

The Met (21st Century) by Dan EdenGreater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

Are you very connected locally in terms of the performers?

We’re primarily known for folk music, but as well as our programme, we also run a number of workshops and that’s how the community fits into it, I think. So, we have a loyal following of audience, which is kind of 50/50 where our audiences come from. 

The workshops are very local. We run workshops for learning disabled, autistic children, LGBT groups, so there’s a number of different groups that serve different aspects of the community and it’s mainly focused on looking after those groups in need of some additional support.

The Met (21st Century) by Dan EdenGreater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

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What is the history of the building?

We took over the building in 1980.The building itself is a huge Grade II listed building, so it’s absolutely beautiful, but it’s not a purpose-built venue, so it had been incrementally adapted and we’d incrementally taken over different sections of the building. I think when we moved in there was also a Methodist church downstairs for instance and there were council offices, so it was used as many different things and we’ve moved to take over the entire building. Because we’re a small charity in Bury, we’ve been able to do little bits but not a significant change so the capital transformation in 2016 really was that. 

The Met (21st Century) by Dan EdenGreater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

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What are your plans for the future?

In April we were fortunate enough to be part of the GMCA’s cultural portfolio. This was the first time in our 40-year history that we’d got funding for our core activity, which is absolutely fantastic and put us on the map for the work that we’ve been doing. We’ve worked for a number of years across Greater Manchester, so it was fantastic to be part of that. And that really kick-started a development phase for us, so we know there’s need and we know we can’t service all that need as a small charity, but that funding, that core funding really gives us a good elevation to be able to do a lot more work across Greater Manchester. That obviously is on hold, we can’t do a lot of that work, but as soon as we can do that work, we’ll be linking up with a number of partners to start different projects across Greater Manchester. 

The Met (21st Century) by Dan EdenGreater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

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What is unique about The Met and Bury?

Bury’s got a very rich history in general, but I think just going back to the point that it’s got so much culture within the borough and so many green spaces. Bury is really fortunate to be on the edge of the countryside and to have an award-winning venue within the town centre is a great accolade for Bury in general.

The Met (21st Century) by Dan EdenGreater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

What would a first time audience member experience?

Well I think primarily we absolutely pride ourselves on a warm welcome. So, if anyone’s intimidated by coming along to The Met, just come along and see what it’s like. It’s a fantastic venue. Everyone is so friendly; our audiences are lovely, and you’ll have a really good time. Being in a room with other people who want to see the same thing or want to see a band, want to see a comedian – it's an amazing experience for any human. It’s a great thing. It’s a feel-good thing. And again, there’s many different ways to get involved with The Met, so it doesn’t have to be a performance, it can be a workshop, come and learn something, come and learn and instrument. 

The Met (21st Century) by Dan EdenGreater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

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