Manchester Cathedral’s fundraising manager has defended the use of the building for raves ahead of another club night next month.
Anthony O’Connor, director of fundraising and development, spoke of the challenge of raising £1.6m each year to keep the historic building running.
He said events like the planned 3-hour set by techno DJ Sasha on the 12the The month of August – almost exhausted – brings important and vital income.
Without this, the cathedral could be forced to charge an entrance fee or even close its doors.
Open to everyone
Anthony has been in the director’s job for about 11 years – and when he arrived it was clear he had his work cut out for him.
“Like a lot of churches, we were just in a massive deficit,” he said.
“Manchester Cathedral does not charge admission.
“We are not doing this because we believe the cathedral should be open to everyone in the city, of all faiths and none.
“So we have to find other ways to grow the revenue.”
He said Manchester – and its sister Anglican cathedral in Liverpool – are “shaping the course” when it comes to fundraising with many events taking place throughout the year.
“If we didn’t do this [Manchester] the cathedral would be closed,” he said.
But some past events at the historic building, such as a gin festival last year, have drawn criticism.
A Twitter user described the event as “disrespectful”. Another commented that “it seemed a bit wrong” to hold a gin festival there.
Anthony admitted he had his detractors.
“When I started doing this they thought I was a total heretic and I thought some of them wanted to burn me at the stake! But now it has calmed down. »
He added: “This year one of our parishioners, who was quite against me years ago, turned around and said ‘Anthony, I understand now, without the revenue from the event we would be sunk “.”
And the majority of events seem to be much less controversial – vintage clothing fairs or classical music by candlelight for example.
Anthony explained that although the Regimental Chapel is occasionally used for cocktail parties, events almost always take place right at the nave.
“If you go back to the medieval church, you have the nave which was basically a community center where people would gather,” Anthony explained.
But the cathedral’s holiest spaces – including the choir and the Lady Chapel – are strictly off-limits to onlookers.
And daily worship is never interrupted. “Services come first,” Anthony said.
However, with rising costs and dwindling income from sources such as bequests, the need to continue cashing in is evident.
Anthony says he and his team are absolutely committed to keeping the doors open every day for anyone who wishes to pray, light a candle or simply enjoy the quietness of the cathedral during the day.
DJ Sasha is at Manchester Cathedral on the 12the August 2022. Tickets for the event – dubbed “a unique clubbing experience like no other” – are available by Manchester 360º
For details of other upcoming events at Manchester Cathedral, visit the the cathedral’s website.
Main photo credit: Charles Drake