I’ve been intending to write this post for several weeks now. You see every month I attend a writers’ group in Manchester. In fact, I now seem to be running the group although my powers are fairly limited because we operate rather like a democracy (or a republic at least). The group is called ‘Manchester Speculative Fiction’ because our members write science fiction, fantasy and horror (and all the sub-genres in between). We meet twice a month at a funky place called the MadLab.

“MadLab!” I hear you cry. “What is this place?”

Well, maybe you’re not quite as vocal as that but perhaps you should be. Especially if you live anywhere near Manchester, because this is what the blurb has to say . . .

“Madlab is a community space for people who want to do and make interesting stuff – a place for geeks, artists, designers, illustrators, hackers, tinkerers, innovators and idle dreamers; an autonomous R&D laboratory and a release valve for Manchester’s creative communities.”

MadLab is a voluntary organisation. They hire a three-storey building at 36-40 Edge Street, Manchester (Northern Quarter for you locals). They offer out space to creative folks who need some space to meet or potter about in.

As writers we meet up once a month to chew over our latest writing projects, we critique each other’s work and most months we pop down the pub afterwards to continue the chat.

There are lots of other groups that meet in MadLab, including a graphic novel group, the girl geek tea party, a sci-fi book club, a Linux user group, a jQuery group and lots of others. MadLab also run one-off events: for example, they’re currently running a Kurt Merz Schwitters exhibition (until the end of the month) and next month there will be the Filmonik Kabaret 2011. MadLab have recently started the Omniversity . . .

“Welcome to the Omniversity of Manchester, a programme of professional training courses at the MadLab, lead by some of the sharpest minds and most cutting-edge practitioners around. Rather than roll out the same-old, last year’s practice, full-time trainers, we’ve reached out to our network to bring recognised experts in their field to teach hands-on skills in affordable workshops. These aren’t just interchangeable tutors delivering the same courses; these are the people who started the projects they are teaching, who use these skills professionally on a daily basis.”

There really is something for everyone, whether you’re a techie or an artist or just one of those dreamer types. Or perhaps you’d like to help out? Either way, check out the website, there really is something for everyone.

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