CitySession - Manchester Histories and the dates that made Manchester

Date: Wednesday 16 May Time: 6pm-8pm Venue: The Kanaris Lecture Theatre, Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, M13 9PL. View map. Cost: Free

In partnership with CityCo, and ahead of the 2018 Manchester Histories Festival which takes place across venues in Manchester city centre from 7-11 June, we bring together a panel of experts to discuss the significant dates in history and the radical events and conversations that have shaped Manchester into the city we know today.

We’ll look at how the city and its venues are marking the dates in history that have major anniversaries in 2018/19. How is the city commemorating 100 years of suffrage in 2018, the WW1 centenary 2018 and 200 years since Peterloo in 2019, to name but a few.


Karen Shannon, Chief Executive, Manchester Histories

Karen is responsible for the creative direction, strategic planning, programming, marketing and funding of Manchester Histories and Manchester Histories Festival. Karen believes that exploring histories and heritage is a great way of engaging with people and communities. A way to spark imaginations, learn new things, and to create work that has impact and meaning on the here and now, and the future.

Katy Ashton, Director, People's History Museum

As Director, Katy leads on strategic direction for the museum, building relationships with partners and funders and representing the museum externally in the media and at events. She feels very lucky to work with a great team, in a fantastic building and with an amazing collection of political and campaigning material which demonstrates the importance of ‘ideas worth fighting for’. She has worked in the museum sector for over 15 years with roles in national, local authority and independent museums. Prior to joining the PHM in 2010, her work was focused on learning, social justice and citizenship within museums and led the National Centre for Citizenship and the Law (NCCL) in Nottingham.

Elaine De Fries, Director of Operations, The Pankhurst Trust

Elaine De Fries is the Pankhurst Trusts, (Incorporating Manchester Women’s Aid,) Director of Operations with over 30 years’ experience of designing and coordinating projects in the voluntary and community sector. She has worked on creative projects developing voice and agency with women from BAME communities and Victims of Domestic Abuse. She is a strong believer in the importance of narrative in community development and activism.

She is leading this year’s campaign to promote the importance of the historic Pankhurst centre in Manchester in this centenary year 2018 and keep alive the voices of the Suffragettes.

Shirley May, Director, Young Identity

Director of the Young Identity writing collective, which primarily works with 13- 25 year olds. Shirley has worked for 19 years to promote a culture around performance poetry, to make it "cool" and happening by mentoring and supporting new writers in schools and community groups. A long-standing member of the Speakeasy Collective in Manchester and a stalwart of the spoken word scene in Manchester and the UK, she co-managed the collective for five years.

The event will be chaired by Esme Ward, Director, Manchester Museum

Esme is Director of Manchester Museum, the first woman to hold the role in the Museum’s 125 year history. Previously Esme was Head of Learning & Engagement at Manchester Museum and The Whitworth and her career has been driven by a social purpose and longstanding commitment to make museums even more inclusive and relevant to a wider audience. These range from babies to people living with dementia. She joined the Whitworth as its Education Officer in 1998 before becoming Head of Learning & Engagement across the Whitworth and Manchester Museum in 2010. In recent years she also worked alongside Maria Balshaw to transform the Whitworth and help it win Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2015.


6:00pm - Registration and refreshments

6:45pm - Introduction and welcome from Chair: Esme Ward 7:00pm - Panel discussion

7:45pm - Q&A

8:00pm - Event close

Please RSVP here by Friday 11 May to reserve your place.

When registering for more than one place please remember to enter each guest with a unique email address. Thank you.

For enquiries please email Janine Holt at CityCo on

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