Marta Minujín – Big Ben Lying Down with Political Books at Manchester International Festival 2021 credit Fabio De Paola

Manchester International Festival (MIF), returns with a vibrant programme of original new work from across the spectrum of visual and performing arts and music by artists from over 20 countries. It opens today and runs until 18 July.

Artists include Akram Khan, Arlo Parks, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Cerys Matthews, Christine Sun Kim, Cillian Murphy, Damon Albarn, Deborah Warner, Forensic Architecture, Ibrahim Mahama, Laure Prouvost, Marta Minujín, Rema and Lemn Sissay.

Events will take place safely in indoor and outdoor locations across Greater Manchester, including the first ever work on the construction site of The Factory, the landmark cultural space that will be MIF’s future home.

A rich online offer provides a window into the Festival wherever audiences are, including livestreams and work created especially for the digital realm.

With almost all the work created in the past year, MIF21 provides a unique snapshot of these unprecedented times. Artists have reflected on ideas such as love and human connections, the way we play, division and togetherness, equality and social change, and the relationship between the urban and the rural.

For the first time, the curation of the Festival’s talks and discussions programme has been handed over to local people, building on MIF’s work involving the community as artistic collaborators and participants in work shaped by them.

Festival Square returns in new location Cathedral Gardens with a packed programme of food, drink and free live music, DJs and more.

As one of the first major public events in the city, MIF21 will play a key role in the safe reopening of the city’s economy and provide employment for hundreds of freelancers and artists.

Much of the programme is free to attend, with more work than ever in public spaces around the city.

Created with safety and well-being at its heart, all protocols are being followed to make this a safe festival for all.

Manchester International Festival Artistic Director & Chief Executive, John McGrath says: “MIF has always been a Festival like no other – with almost all the work being created especially for us in the months and years leading up to each Festival edition.  But who would have guessed two years ago what a changed world the artists making work for our 2021 Festival would be working in?

From legendary Argentinian artist Marta Minujin’s decision to give the world’s most famous clock, Big Ben, a temporary new home in Manchester to Cephas Williams’ celebratory activist artwork Portrait of Black Britain, the ways in which artists have used the opportunity of the Festival to reflect on life now has been inspiring. Our programme is very different to the one we had almost-fully planned at the start of last year, but I hope it feels urgent and right.

We hope MIF21 will provide a time and place to reflect on our world now, to celebrate the differing ways we can be together, and to emphasise, despite all that has happened, the importance of our creative connections – locally and globally.”

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, says: “After the year we’ve all had that has been such a massive challenge for our cultural sector – which was the first to lockdown a year ago and will be the last to reopen – Manchester needs MIF this year more than ever.

Manchester has always been a city that values and champions culture and is rightly recognised across the globe for its strengths and innovation in this.  As we now begin to move out of the pandemic, we’re very clear that the cultural sector has an enduring and important part to play in our recovery.

Thanks to the determination and creativity of the MIF team and all the artists and others who are part of this year’s festival, I have no doubt that MIF21 will put Manchester back in the spotlight once more, firmly centre-stage again, leading the way as ever and showing the rest of the world what Manchester does best.”

With the creative community seriously affected by the COVID-19 crisis, MIF has been supporting local artists and creatives in a number of ways  including selecting five Greater Manchester artists for Creative Fellowships which provide mentor support, a £3,000 bursary, and opportunities to shadow the creation of major Festival productions. MIF has also been supporting those involved in Manchester’s music scene through MIF Sounds, providing funding and professional guidance, and is a major partner in Manchester Independents – supporting independent artists and companies in Greater Manchester to develop and share their work across the summer, including during the festival.


Source:Manchester International Festival

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