Happy HOME memories – our staff and volunteers’ view of the last five years

A place is just a building without its people, and there are no people more important to HOME than our wonderful staff and volunteers who make everything happen. So of course for our fifth birthday we wanted to share just a few happy memories from them:

HOME and I arrived in Manchester at the same time

HOME and I arrived in Manchester at the same time, pretty much.

I moved to Manchester in September 2014 for University at the tender age of 18, and since HOME opened, we’ve grown up together. In 2015, I volunteered, supporting the schools visits to Inkheart in T1. I stopped volunteering and sought some paid employment (sorry to Lee!) but kept visiting to see the cinema (and to drink wine in the café bar).

A couple of years later and my boyfriend surprised me with a date to see La La Land (hated it – but kept that quiet) at HOME. He was super excited as he thought he’d found a place in Manchester I’d yet to visit. I did have to point out that I’d volunteered here and had been to visit many times since (duh – it’s HOME and the student tickets were so cheap). Charlie and I have been together almost as long as HOME has been around now.

Having now worked at HOME over a year, it has also provided me my first full-time role at an arts centre. Aren’t we both grown up? (not really)

Happy Birthday, HOME ?

Emma Smith, Development Assistant

I was really chuffed

Walking in the pride parade representing HOME is one of my happiest memories ?

I was really chuffed when I became an usher at HOME and it will be a great day when we are allowed to reopen.

Jo Sayers, Usher 

A real buzz about the place!

Welcoming the HOME honeybee hives to our rooftop in June 2018 created a real buzz about the place!

The project was made possible thanks to a whole team effort to raise the funds to ensure our bees would have the best care possible and support biodiversity in Manchester. A sponsored walk by staff and volunteers took in bee themed landmarks all across town, we repurposed materials from around the building and from venues around the city. We’ve got washing machine drums filled with lavender and old stage lighting filled with wildflowers. Our four staff beekeepers trained with Manchester District Beekeepers Association at Heaton Park and we’ve grown a network of local apiarists to share advice and support. Late in 2019 we harvested our first batch of delicious HOME honey. Our bees are taking care of HOME for us during lockdown, we’re pleased to report they’re doing well collecting pollen and nectar in the Spring sunshine. You can see them on our beecam.

Alison Criddle, Projects & Sustainability Coordinator

Can’t wait till we all meet again!

I have many happy memories of being a volunteer at HOME over the last five years. Indeed, celebrating HOME’s First Birthday was an exciting day!

I have been so fortunate to have met and worked alongside many wonderful people at HOME along the way. I have helped backstage and also appeared on stage! I have supported a wide range of groups and individuals, many productions and welcomed hundreds of visitors and guests.

Can’t wait till we all meet again!

Eileen Hamilton, Volunteer

An absolute a pleasure

Without exaggeration I wouldn’t be working in film now if it weren’t for the films of British director Terence Davies, and working with him on Q&As – Terence has joined us at Cornerhouse and HOME multiple times – is an absolute a pleasure. Always generous with his time and his stories, Terence Davies never fails to entertain.

Some of my favourite events at HOME have centred on music, be that live scores or music-related guests – Suede talking Night Thoughts; Kieran Evans indulging my love of Manic Street Preachers; Jordan being one of the loveliest and most engaging guests we’ve welcomed to HOME are a few notable examples, but there are many many more. For sheer ambition and scale, and for squeezing a choir and the band at the front on Cinema 1, The Membranes: Dark Matter/Dark Energy will always be one of our most memorable events.

We’ve also had so many amazing Q&As over the last five years, and one of the most inspiring Q&As for the strength, honesty and positivity from the guests has to be Erik Poppe’s Utøya: July 22.  The guests each spoke in fascinating detail about the importance of Erik’s open and sensitive process in creating the film.  If you’ve not seen this, I urge you to watch it.

Rachel Hayward, Head of Film

That night was truly special

Moonlight 2

I was honoured to host the Moonlight Q&A with Barry Jenkins, a highlight of my life. He was generous and expansive and the audience loved him. I really admire his work and the film remains a favourite. It was my third hosting gig, and I’ve done more since, the HOME audiences are always incredible but that night was truly special.

Esther Lisk-Carew, Usher

A kind and generous man

This picture is me and John Boorman. Boorman is one of the legends of British cinema, a true visionary. He was one of the first auteur figures to visit HOME and it was one of my great ambitions to interview him. I have been thinking of hm a lot recently as I have read his latest memoir, Conclusions, which is a moving and eloquent meditation on a life well lived. A life full of personal and professional tragedy and significant artistic achievements. What a kind and generous man.

Jason Wood, Creative Director: Film and Culture

I still remember the songs!

Working as a volunteer usher for Romeo & Juliet at Victoria Baths. I still remember the songs!

Leanne Frank, Volunteer

Up stepped yours truly

Two memories spring to mind for me.

Appearing on Eggheads as part of the HOME team (24 Hour Arty People), beating Judith Keppel on history, before narrowly losing the final. And being the replacement photographer for New Order on a Sky private hire in Cinema 1. I was trying to get in the hire to meet my favourite band – all looked lost till the photographer phoned in sick. They were desperate for someone who could use a camera. Up stepped yours truly – didn’t have a clue, but had a great night.

James den Kaat, Head of ICT

Are you the Queen?

I’d like to offer the abridged 1 hour Släpstick Matinee which took place on 19 December 2018 as a stand out memory from my time at HOME. All the tickets were funded by One Manchester and Wythenshawe Community Housing Trust which meant we could target schools who have little or no opportunity to visit the theatre.

340 Primary School children attended and we had comments such as: ‘brilliant performance’, ‘children and staff all had a great time’ and ‘thanks for the most bonkers experience of the year’ from teachers.

And comments such as ‘best day ever’, ‘what is this place?’ and ‘are you the Queen?’ from the pupils.

It was clear from conversations with teachers and pupils that for some, this was their first experience of coming to the theatre.

Groups were welcomed by HOME staff and volunteers. Paper party hats and novelty moustaches/glasses were handed out upon arrival. The atmosphere in the theatre was one of sheer excitement. As soon as the house lights went down a shriek went up and the enthusiasm did not abate. There was also a lot of laughter and audience participation. A lot of very happy faces left the theatre and after the show the performers posed for photos with the children – which rounded the event off really nicely. The performers said how much they enjoyed putting the show on for such an enthusiastic audience.

It was lovely to see HOME full of younger children.

Victoria Howarth, Schools & Colleges Programme Producer

We had to use old posters

This is Pot Kettle Black in Barton Arcade, we had to use old posters to cover the windows to black out the space. We presented Dante or Die’s User Not Found for Orbit 2018.

Amanda Fawcett, Programme Producer

A very new and innocent time

The Funfair. First ever HOME produced production for T1 being rehearsed in T2 days before it opened. A very new and innocent time.

Jamie Byron, Company Stage Manager

I suspected HOME would create plenty of memorable moments

When we first opened I suspected HOME would create plenty of memorable moments… and we did! But never would have I imagined finding myself in the cinema not knowing when it would happen again. So here is my lasting memory of the last five years, last film of the last screening before lockdown, on my notice board, eagerly awaiting to be joined by many more memories to come in the next five years!

Isabelle Croissant, Talent Development Programme Manager

Do you have a fabulous memory from the last five years you’d like to share? Click here to send us yours – we’ll be sharing more over the next week!