Research Seminar Summary: 24th May


On Thursday 24th May, we hosted our second research seminar of the year. We hold termly seminars, to give our members the opportunity to present and engage with the latest research and projects in place management and supporting disciplines. This seminar we enjoyed a full bill of eight speakers with a diverse mix of topics ranging from botanical gardens to the night-time economy.

Research Seminar Jess

Jess Edwards (Head of English at Manchester Met) kicked off the seminar with his presentation on UNESCO cities of literature. Jess discussed the city of literature network, mentioning that Manchester were the fourth UK city to gain UNESCO city of literature status in 2017 and detailed the rich literature culture that enabled Manchester to meet the cities of literature criteria. Jess talked about events that Manchester city of literature (MCoL) had successful delivered focusing on the International Mother Language Day, which was held on the 20th February. Jess finished his presentation by discussing what the MCoL plans were for the future, which includes Arabic and polish language events scheduled for May.

Martin Kratz (Manchester Poetry Library Manager at Manchester Met)followed the literature theme, talking about the exciting developments of the Manchester Poetry Library within Manchester Met’s yet to be completed arts and humanities building. Martin discussed how he is currently trying to build a body of poetry literature to fill the library, (stating the library currently only has two books!). Martin talked about the challenges of developing and marketing a public national poetry library within a university and about the exciting plans he has for connecting with other cities and poetry libraries.

Moving on from literature Martha Lindeham (PhD student at Manchester Met) discussed her ongoing PhD research on amusement arcades, focusing predominately on seaside arcades in the North West. Martha discussed negative connotations linked with amusement arcades and how she is challenging these common perceptions within her research. Martha’s research focusses on how amusement arcades contribute to place making in seaside towns, especially in terms of sound. Martha argued that seaside amusement arcades are unique and have become museums of gaming history from 70s, 80s, and 90s. However, Martha also mentioned that arcades popularity has dwindled in the modern era, with many struggling to attract tourists. Martha is currently collecting sound bites from various seaside locations in the North West of England and analysing what it means for place making.

Next up Nick Catahan (Senior Lecturer at Edge Hill University) presented his research on botanical gardens, discussing their function and versatility as a space. Nick argued many people are unsure about what botanical gardens are, and they need effective marketing to draw more visitors. Nevertheless, understanding how to market botanical gardens is proving challenging, as they are a complex product – and all the ‘normal’ issues around place management apply (governance, funding, pressure from development etc.). Nick is using a variety of literature and theory to inform a more strategic approach to ensufring the sustainability of these important places.

During the short networking break, the audience were shown a virtual reality video of what the new poetry library will look like. The audience also took the opportunity to re-fill their coffee cups and engage in networking with speakers and guests.

Research Seminar Jo Cox

Following the break Jo Cox Brown (Manager of Manchester’s Night Time Economy) discussed her role in managing the lucrative evening and night time economy in Manchester. Jo discussed how large and how much potential for growth there is in the sector, stating that the evening and night time economy (ENTE) is worth more £6 billion in Manchester alone. Jo went on to highlight the issues with the night time economy including alcohol related violence, an increase in recreational drug strength and an increase in reported sexual harassment. She concluded her presentation by setting out the night time economy’s strategy and highlighting best practice from around the country. 

Steve Millington (Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Man Met and Director at IPM) continued the discussion around the night-time and darkness, talking through the place management policy and practice implications of night time urban life. Steve discussed various changes to street lighting, and showed how visually powerful even small changes in lighting (and shadowing) can be. Steve concluded his presentation by summarising the positive and negative effects different lighting can have on spaces.

Research Seminar 1 Cecil

Cecil Berranger (PhD student at Manchester Met) discussed her PhD research on co-operative place making, in particular focusing on the greater Manchester town, Rochdale. Cecil mentioned co-operatives are becoming an ever-popular model, with membership to co-operatives on the rise worldwide, especially in Canada, Japan and Italy. Nevertheless, the impact of these organisational structures, the people that work in them and their practices/output is an under-researched area. Cecil’s work is focussing on the contribution of co-ops to place making.

Finally, Brendan Keegan (Senior Lecturer at Manchester Met) presented his initial work on digital placemaking, discussing the effects of social media as well as augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) on places. Brendan is looking to continue his work and to develop a Digital Placemaking special interest group within IPM; you can help him out by completing his short survey: This new group will explore on how new technologies can support effective placemaking – but it certainly won’t assume that new technologies always make a positive contribution.  Part of the role of the group will be to take a critical review of ‘Smart City’ initiaitves.

We had originally scheduled our next research seminar for the 13th December, however this was met with disappointment from the audience, so we are happy to announce that we will be hosting an additional seminar on the 13th September. Our seminars are free to attend for all members. Whilst it is mostly research that is presented, we are also keen to hear about interesting projects.  The seminar is attracting more of our practitioner members – about a 1/3rd of the audience this time were place managers.