Economics the Blockbuster: It’s not Business as Usual

30 Jun-22 Oct 2023
PV 30 Jun 2023, 6-8pm

The Whitworth
Manchester M15 6ER


Exploring new ways of being, working and doing business. How can artists reimagine and disrupt conventional ideas of value, ownership, trade and economy? How might artists inspire us to practice our economic life more equitably, radically and sustainably?

We are excited to announce a new project by the Whitworth, presented as part of this year’s Manchester International Festival MIF23.

Economics the Blockbuster is an exhibition that presents a selection of extraordinary art projects that operate as real-world economic systems. Together they propose new ways of 'doing business', driven by the needs and concerns of the communities in which they are created.

Economy includes many things, from the exchange of gifts to caring for others, building trust and sustaining the environment. It happens not only in factories, shops, or offices but in parks, on the streets, and in museums. Building on the Whitworth’s ongoing commitment to being a useful museum driven by a civic purpose, this project addresses economics as a social and financial set of relations that we all take part in.

From a community-led drinks company to an art collective reclaiming plantation land, the exhibition includes new artist commissions, merchandise with a purpose, business collaborations and a live program.

Bringing together existing and new works, the exhibition draws on global strategies explored by artists and arts organisations including: Association de Arte Útil, Cercle d'Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) and Renzo Martens, Company Drinks, Goldin+Senneby, Kathrin Böhm and Kuba Szreder (Centre for Plausible Economies), lumbung Kios, Owen Griffiths and Alessandra Saviotti, Rosalie Schweiker, The Alternative School of Economics (Ruth Beale and Amy Feneck) and Tŷ Pawb.

Responding directly to the failures and limits of current systems, Economics the Blockbuster creates ideas for other ways of being.

A project by the Whitworth, The University of Manchester, and presented as part of Manchester International Festival.

Manchester International Festival 2023 In collaboration with partners across the city and the globe, Manchester International Festival invites an extraordinary range of artists, from a huge range of art forms and backgrounds to create brand-new work for Manchester. MIF23 runs from 29 June – 16 July 2023 and takes place in venues across the city. To find out more about the Festival visit

Project credits The exhibition was initiated by Alistair Hudson (former Director at the Whitworth, now Artistic- Scientific Chairman of Zentrums für Kunst und Medien (ZKM), Germany) and is shaped by a collaborative group led by Poppy Bowers, Interim Head of Exhibitions at the Whitworth, and including: John Byrne (Liverpool John Moores University), Kathrin Böhm and Kuba Szreder (Centre for Plausible Economies), Ismail Ertürk (Alliance Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester), Alessandra Saviotti (Asociación de Arte Útil), Vicky Carr and Chris Shearston (Textbook Studio), Holly Shuttleworth (Executive Producer, HS Studio), Whitworth staff: Ed Watts, Head of Civic Education & Engagement, and Hannah Vollam, Curatorial Assistant.

30 June – 22 October 2023

Image: Members and regular pickers of Company Drinks, a community-driven drinks business, forage for hawthorn at Eastbrookend Country Park in Dagenham, East London/Essex. Photo courtesy of Company Drinks.

Book now


Economics the Blockbuster: It’s not Business as Usual | press release