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MAMA Group co-founders launch new Manchester venue

A “next generation” live music venue and cultural destination from the co-founders of MAMA Group is opening in Manchester’s Circle Square next month.

Launched by Canvas Venues Group (CVG), the team behind London’s The Pickle Factory and Oval Space, the 600-cap Canvas is aimed at the under 30s market and marks CVG’s first foray outside of the capital.

The company has invested £2 million into the development, which is backed by investment group Edition Capital and opens on 8 June. Set across free floors, it comprises a music venue, members bar and lounge and late night bar and restaurant. It will host a series of live gigs from both national and international acts, album launches, club nights and listening parties.

“Manchester was always where we were going first outside of London as a city of huge cultural significance, especially in the music scene,” says owner and co-founder Dean James. “We launched Canvas here because Manchester represents music, community, and entertainment in spades.”

“This generation needs a place to re-establish and rebuild the social connections that were taken from them over the past two years”

Initially operating in Manchester and London, CVG intends to roll out the concept to cities such as Glasgow and Bristol in the UK, and Melbourne and Austin internationally.

James previously co-founded MAMA Group, which owned and operated Lovebox, Wilderness and Great Escape festivals as well as Hammersmith Apollo, Jazz Café, Forum, Manchester Ritz and G-A-Y venues. MAMA was acquired by LN-Gaiety in 2015.

“We have aimed this venue specifically at the youth market because we believe, now more than ever, this generation needs a place to re-establish and rebuild the social connections that were taken from them over the past two years,” adds James. “We will aim our programming and our members’ events squarely at helping them to rebuild those connections and a way of life that involves connecting with people.

“Circle Square stood out to us as a destination due to its central location and close proximity to the universities. Canvas is a way we can champion the freshest talent in the industry, whilst developing the next generation and we look forward to seeing it become part of the community.”

“The appeal to open Canvas here comes from the breadth and diversity of Manchester’s live music and cultural scene”

The venue will operate a ‘plastic free’ policy in a bid to eliminate single use plastics. Canvas’ music policy will reflect a more commercial version of the current Oval and Pickle programming, and members will have access to two free gigs or club nights a month and specifically curated weekly members’ events.

“Manchester has a history of being creative and rebellious within the fabric of its music scene from the beginning,” adds head of programming Joe Splain. “The appeal to open Canvas here comes from the breadth and diversity of Manchester’s live music and cultural scene and the influence it has not just on British music culture, but also internationally.”

“By giving people a platform to share and collaborate, Canvas has a really unique way of bringing together artists and audiences from underrepresented backgrounds. We try hard to avoid being polarised – I think it’s this passion that keeps us ahead of the curve and relevant to what our communities actually want.”

 


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Mama founder launches events agency BeSixth

Live music veteran Dean James, formerly CEO of Mean Fiddler and Mama & Company, and Gavin Aldrich, managing director of youth marketing firm Campus Group, have launched BeSixth, a live events agency with offices in London and Sydney.

The pair, which also own multipurpose London venues Oval Space and the Pickle Factory, say BeSixth – which incorporates Campus Group, as well as a production division, BeLive – will provide clients with a “credible and effective route to bring brands into the worlds of entertainment, music and live experience”.

James left Mama, which he co-founded in 2005, in 2013, and established a new artist services business, Sixth, the following year. (Under his leadership, Mama acquired festivals and venues including the Great Escape, Lovebox, Wilderness and the Hammersmith Apollo. Live Nation acquired the company in 2014.)

BeLive client services include brand activations, experiential and live content, event sponsorship, event production, festivals, pop-up shops and artist partnerships.

The company expects to announce details of a third office, in the US, in the coming months.

“Matching artist and brand profiles correctly allows for campaigns that really tap into youth culture”

James, BeSixth’s chairman, says: “The youth demographic is the largest in the world and music is key to reaching them. Brands want to engage with these audiences; they appreciate the importance of authenticity and understand music is key to reaching young audiences effectively.

“BeSixth’s offering is designed to allow brands to access the best live experience and entertainment has to offer. Matching artist and brand profiles correctly allows for campaigns that really tap into youth culture, generating results you can’t get via other means.”

Adds managing director Leslie: “As venue owners and event programmers, we work face to face with our audience 24/7. The detailed audience analysis and targeting this enables, combined with our unrivalled music expertise, means we’re able to deliver creative strategy for brands that celebrates shared passions through experience.

“Combining our existing and new offerings under the new BeSixth brand is all about utilising these capabilities for new brands in new markets, making sure they’re in the right place with the right execution in order to maximise impact.”

 


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