And we’re off. After lining up a phenomenal judging panel, running a design competition, sorting out an advertising campaign and some top sponsors (including our main supporter, Marketing Manchester), making partnership deals with the likes of MMU, Castlefield Gallery, Cornerhouse and Blueprint Studios – and generally running ourselves ragged for the last four months or so – The Best of Manchester Awards are now open for entries.
The hunt is now on to find the artists, musicians and designers whose boundary-breaking work deserves the Best of Manchester crown.
As you know, our 24 judges include Peter Saville, Wayne Hemingway, the Turner Prize winning artist, Jeremy Deller, Tim Marlow (White Cube, London), Miranda Sawyer, Yvette Livesey (In The City) and Luke Bainbridge (Observer Music Monthly).
But the awards are far more than a pat on the back from these industry greats. And, while we grant you that the £6k that’s up for grabs (£2k per category) is also a sweetener, the awards are about more than the money. They’re even about more than the chance to take part in a major exhibition at Urbis.
What makes these awards special is the chance that the winners get to kick-start their careers with the kind of contacts and professional development that money can’t buy. Think about it: you’re a young band, say, and you’ve got the chance to get your music in front of Universal’s head of A&R (Caroline Elleray) and the woman who runs In The City (Yvette Livesey). Or you’re a fine artist, and all of a sudden your work is being seen by Urbis, Castlefield Gallery, White Cube and a Turner Prize winning artist.
Chances like that just don’t come along very often.
And if that doesn’t persuade you, here’s what happened to some of 2008’s winners and nominees:
Art award winner Naomi Kashiwagi has gone on to stage performances at the Barbican (London) and the Whitworth Art Gallery. She took advantage of an Urbis-sponsored trip to the Frieze and Zoo art fairs to develop her practice, featured in a group show at Cornerhouse at the end of 2008, won the Individual Artist Award at the Art Council’s art08 awards and has secured a solo exhibition in Tokyo this year.
Fashion winner Simon Buckley, who runs the Rags to Bitches boutique, went on to win Best Female Clothes Shop in the Galaxy 2008 Awards and was Highly Commended for Best Womenswear in the Drapers Awards. After a Guardian write-up, Rags to Bitches have since run a series of sold-out fashion events at Urbis.
Fashion nominee Nabil El Nayal is the darling of Vogue and has been tipped by the national press as ‘the next face of British womenswear’. He swiped the Womenswear Award at Graduate Fashion Week this summer and won a place on the Royal College of Arts’ Womenswear MA (alumni include Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen). Thanks to Urbis, Nayal’s couture collection became the star of its own fashion shoot in Flux Magazine, with the resulting photographs displayed at Harvey Nichols Manchester in October 2008.
So, what are you waiting for? The awards open for entries today (16 February) and close at
Midnight on 1 May 2009. Entry is online. The shortlist will be announced on 15 June, and the winners announced live at an awards ceremony at Urbis on 23 July.