Manchester Cathedral DJ Sasha gig nearly sold out as church director hails income as vital

Manchester Cathedral’s fundraising chief has defended the use of the building for raves ahead of another club night next month.

Anthony O’Connor, Director of Fundraising and Development, spoke of the challenge of raising £1.6 million each year to run the landmark building.

He said events like the planned 3-hour set by techno DJ Sasha on 12th August – nearly sold out – bring in a sizable and vital income. 

Without it the cathedral could be forced to charge an entry fee or even close its doors.

Open to everyone

Anthony has been in the director role for around 11 years – and when he arrived it was clear he had his work cut out.

“Like a lot of churches we were just in a massive deficit,” he said.

“Manchester Cathedral does not charge for entry.

“We don’t do that because we feel the cathedral should be open to everyone in the city of all faiths and none.

“So we have to find other ways of developing income.”

He said Manchester – and its sister Anglican cathedral in Liverpool – are “shaping the course” when it comes to fundraising with plenty of events happening all year round.

“If we didn’t do this [Manchester] cathedral would be closed,” he said.


But some previous events in the historic building, such as a gin festival last year, have attracted criticism.

One Twitter user described the event as “disrespectful”.  Another commented that “it seemed a bit wrong” to hold a gin festival there.

Anthony admitted he has his critics.

“When I first started doing this they thought I was a total heretic and I though some of them wanted to burn me at the stake! But now it’s calmed down.”

He added: “This year one of our parishioners, who was pretty against me years ago, turned around and said ‘Anthony, I get it now, without the event income we would be sunk’.”

And the majority of events appear to be far less contentious – vintage clothing fairs or classical music by candelight for instance.


Anthony explained that while the Regimental Chapel is occasionally used for drinks receptions, events almost always take place just in the nave. 

“If you go back to the medieval church you have the nave which was basically a community centre where people gathered,” Anthony explained.

But the most sacred spaces in the cathedral – including the Choir and the Lady Chapel – are strictly off-limits to event-goers.

And daily worship is never interrupted. “The services take priority,” Anthony said.

With rising costs though, and dwindling income from sources such as bequests, the need to keep cash rolling in is clear.

Anthony says he and his team are absolutely determined to keep the doors open daily for anyone wishing to pray, light a candle or simply enjoy the cathedral’s quiet calm during the day.

DJ Sasha is at Manchester Cathedral on 12th August 2022.  Tickets for the event – dubbed “a unique clubbing experience like no other” – are available via Manchester 360º

For full details of other upcoming events at Manchester Cathedral visit the cathedral’s website.

Main photo credit: Charles Drake

Related Articles