Manning under new management

Is this the boost the bar needs?

Katatonia playing at Manning Bar in 2016. Source: Rogue Inc Katatonia playing at Manning Bar in 2016. Source: Rogue Inc

Programming and marketing at Manning House will now be run by the Century Venues Group, a prominent Sydney-based event management company.

“Manning House is one of the iconic venues in Sydney,” said Matthew Leost, a venue booker at the company. The venue’s outdoor space also allows for “a lot of footprint events that we can’t offer at any of our other venues,” he added.

Century Venues’ portfolio already boasts some of Sydney’s most popular locations including the Enmore Theatre, Metro Theatre, and Factory Theatre. As yet, there seem to be no plans to rename the bar to Manning Theatre.

University of Sydney Union (USU) President Michael Rees says it was that strong portfolio that prompted the USU — which operates Manning House — to enter the partnership.

“[Century Venues] have strong industry contacts which will enable them to secure a variety of artists, a mix of international and national headliners as well as local performers,” said Rees.

According to its media release, Century Venues intends “to implement a range of new initiatives to entertain students of the University of Sydney and the wider community.”

Leost said those initiatives were still being discussed with the USU but would include music festivals, dance parties, and live music. Century Venues is also heavily involved in Sydney’s comedy scene and the 2017 Sydney Comedy Festival, which may indicate more laughs in store for Manning attendees.

Programming was previously managed by a variety of external agencies and had drawn criticism from students for lacklustre offerings. Despite the criticisms, Rees commented that the USU was satisfied with the performance of those agencies.

This is the second major change at Manning this year after the long-serving Manning Grill was replaced by Lucky’s Diner.

In 2016, Honi reported on the illustrious past of Manning Bar and the impact of voluntary student unionism on its popularity. Perhaps this change could be the events-management-elixir required to reinvigorate the once bustling student hub.