The other day Phil and I went to Home. This shiny, modern building with lots of glass everywhere results from the merging of Manchester's Cornerhouse and Library Theatre companies. The Cornerhouse, on the corner of Oxford Road and Hulme Street, was for thirty years the go-to place in Manchester to see foreign films, arthouse films, films that wouldn't necessarily make it into mainstream cinemas. For years I took students there to workshops on French and Spanish films. All good stuff. Occasionally students were a little surprised that there was no stand selling popcorn and large bags of sweets. The Cornerhouse, with its several mini-cinema rooms did not subscribe to the idea that seeing a film meant a junk-food binge session.
I notice, however, that the seats in the mini-cinema rooms at the new Home come provided with a slot to hold your coffee or soft drink. Still no popcorn on sale though. Standards have to be maintained.
The new venue has the same sort of set-up as the old Cornerhouse, with several mini-cinemas but also a large drama theatre and a bright and airy bar and restaurant.
Phil and I met there at the end of the afternoon, after I had been to my Italian conversation class, and sampled the restaurant menu before going to an early evening film. The food was fine. not exceptional but very acceptable.
As we sat in the restaurant we speculated on where the funding for the fine new building might have come from. So I googled it: Manchester City Council, Arts Council England and something called the Garfield Weston Foundation. The place operates, I found out, under a service contract with Manchester council stating that HOME will provide social benefit to the community. So now we know.
As I made my way from the Manchester Blind Institute, where the Italian class takes place, I followed signposts directing me to Home. All very useful. I mentioned this to my daughter, who told me about a recent visit with her primary school class to an exhibition in central Manchester. Her teaching assistant noticed the signposts and asked, "How can they possibly know which is the way home for everyone?" A fairly logical question if you have never heard of Home with a capital H, which my daughter's teaching assistant evidently had not. But then she isn't the kind of person who watches foreign films and she is known for her ability to ask daft questions.
The shiny glass building was designed by a company based in Delft, in the Netherlands. Why not a North of England based company? We may well ask. This is the way of the modern world. Why the name HOME as well? Apparently there was much discussion and money was spent on consultation firms about this matter. What else did we expect? My research tells me:
"Home was a reference point for much of the workshop discussions (second home, feeling at home, home of great work) and following discussions with staff and stakeholders it emerged as one of the strongest possible names for the organisation. It evokes accessibility, welcome and warmth, connection, a sense of ownership and personal relationships – all of which came out in our discussions with audiences as essential to the atmosphere and character of the new organisation. Based on what we heard from audiences in the workshops and the discussions we had with staff, we also wanted to avoid anything that tried too hard, that came across as pretentious, convoluted or overworked or that needed a lot of explanation."
So HOME it is.
Anyway, we went there. We saw the new Coen brothers' film, "Hail Caesar". How we laughed! The Coen brothers have the gift of persuading actors like George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson and Ralph Fiennes to make complete idiots of themselves for the delight of the likes of me.
Wonderful stuff! I highly recommend it!