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New Normal has announced its latest celebration of the arts and the queer community as we host ‘New Normal: a trail of queer expressions‘ in our Northern Quarter flagship, Hilton House. The free event runs from 17th – 20th August.

A trail of exhibitions showcasing queer art and culture, New Normal is a creative venture organised by our very own marketing executive, Johnny Villanueva. The New Normal was born at Hilton House in August 2021 where 17 LGBTQIA+ artists exhibited works reflecting their personal experience with identity, sexuality, and artistic ambition. We supported the event along with architects Hawkins\Brown and Feel Good Club, a first-of its kind wellness cafe and community hub on the ground floor of Hilton House. Following last year’s success, Johnny has expanded the exhibition to promote inclusivity, equality, and acceptance by creating a trail of artistic expression and sexual freedom across some of the Northern Quarter’s and Ancoats’ most exciting and inclusive venues.

From Wednesday 17th to Saturday 20th August, favoured Manchester venues Common, Hilton House, Feel Good Club, Foundation Coffee House, UNITOM, Live Well, Kerb Wine, Fierce Beer, Takk and Whiskey Jar will all host unique celebrations of the city’s valued LGBTQIA+ community. The New Normal trail celebrates art forms in different varieties offering something different at each venue. Stand outs include Tongi Sanchez & Brett Denning’s Homo Structure exhibition at Takk Coffee, Jo Bagpipes All LGBTQ+ Line-up open mic on Wednesday 17th August at Whiskey Jar, the Dance Floor Diaries exhibition at Common and the World’s Queer People photography exhibition by Madeleine Penfold.

The trail celebrates art in various forms and has been designed to elevate visibility to queer artists and create more inclusive spaces for people to connect and share experiences along the way. Northern Quarter hotspot, Common will be opening up the dance floor with Queer Mix Club open decks on Wednesday 17th August, a karaoke night on Thursday 18th and concluding with two nights of Manchester’s queer collective Chic DJs on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th August.

Parties to celebrate the trail’s finale will be in full swing across the city on Saturday 20th August with Kerb wine, Hilton House and Live Well all hosting end of trail parties.

Commenting on the upcoming New Normal trail, Marketing Executive and New Normal curator, Johnny Villanueva said: “Manchester has become my home and creating something like this is my way of giving back to the community that made me feel like I finally belong. I’m truly grateful to be surrounded by so many supportive people. I work for a property developer but I was encouraged for my creativity and self-expression. My colleagues have always been there to listen to my ideas and believed in my abilities to make things happen. I was fully supported when I had this idea last year, and I still continue to get that support organising this year’s New Normal.

CERT helped me start this journey to promote LGBTQ+ in the most creative way I can think of. I’m hoping that this journey will help develop NQ places to be more inclusive and welcoming to everyone regardless of gender, skin colour, and body shape. A safe place for everyone.“

Inclusivity is one of CERT’s core values and their people-first approach just aligns with what New Normal is trying to achieve. CERT champions every employee and gives them a platform to make important decisions which will contribute additional value to the company and the community. Supporting Johnny on the production of the New Normal trail is a natural part of the business’s long-standing belief in diverse communities.

Commenting on the exciting project, our founder Howard Lord said: “People want to feel part of something where they can be free to be themselves. That is exactly what building communities is about – understanding yourself through your experience and connection with others. Working with Johnny and some of Manchester’s incredible creative venues on the New Normal has been a pleasure and a huge step forward in our mission to build inclusive communities with common values of freedom of expression. The New Normal Exhibition is a great celebration of diversity, individuality but also connection and community and we are incredibly proud to be able to support Johnny in this venture.”

Feel Good Club owners Kiera and Amie Lawlor-Skillen are thrilled to be participating in the event again this year: “We absolutely love last year’s New Normal. Johnny did an amazing job at bringing so many people together and it was an amazing event to witness. We’re really excited to be part of it again this year and celebrate the queer people in Manchester.”

The New Normal: a trail of queer expressions is a free event across 10 city centre locations and runs from 17th-20th August. Works include spoken word, art installations, photography exhibitions, DJ sets and much more.

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