Supporters of the University of Manchester (UoM) Rent Strike held a pop-up gig on February 14, in solidarity with the ongoing building occupations and wider strikes happening across campus.
The gig started at 3pm under the arch of Whitworth Hall, with a performance from Vice Vera, a member of Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) UCU. This was followed by singer OORYA, who finished just after 4pm.
Crowds from various societies – such as Manchester Leftist Action, Occupation Solidarity, and Manchester Labour Students – filled the pavement of Oxford Road throughout the hour of performances.
The crowd then moved to the John Owens building in a direct display of solidarity with the building occupiers within, sharing chants of “Nancy, Nancy, Nancy… Out, Out, Out.”
This move was a response to the University of Manchester’s ultimatum to occupiers, issued to them that morning. It stated that they must leave all occupied buildings by 4pm on February 14 or face formal disciplinary action over ‘serious misconduct.’
UoM rent strikers occupying the John Owens building reiterated their three aims for the ongoing strike action. This was met with cheers from the crowd of the solidarity pop-up gig below, who had moved to the building of Vice Chancellor Nancy Rothwell’s office.
Max Jenkinson, a coordinator of the solidarity gig, opened the event by stating that the UoM Rent Strike and UCU members must “continue Manchester’s revolutionary history.”
OORYA, the second performer of the hour, also prefaced her performance with a comment that the strikers “are breaking the system and rebuilding it in the image that it always should have been.”
The gig took place under a banner that read, “We Demand Affordable Rent, Nancy Earns 260k.” Throughout the two performances and subsequent display of solidarity outside the John Owens building, pink smoke flares were utilised alongside the waving of red flags.