Manchester International Festival (MIF) is the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events and takes place biennially, in Manchester, UK. The Festival launched in 2007 as an artist-led, commissioning Festival presenting new works from across the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture.
Some highlights of the first four Festivals include premieres of Steve McQueen’s commemoration of fallen British soldiers, Queen and Country; Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlettand Chen Shi-Zheng's Chinese opera Monkey: Journey to the West; group art event Il Tempo del Postino - featuring work by Matthew Barney, Tacita Dean and Tino Sehgal; Zaha Hadid Architects' new space for the music of Bach; Björk's three-week Biophilia residency; director Robert Wilson's The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, starring Abramović, Willem Dafoe and Antony; The xx performing in a hidden city centre space for audiences of just 60 and Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth.
In 2015 highlights included the Alice in Wonderland inspired wonder.land with music by Damon Albarn, book and lyrics by Moira Buffini, directed by Rufus Norris; and contemporary-ballet Tree of Codes a spellbinding collaboration between Wayne McGregor, Olafur Eliasson and Jamie xx that featured dancers for Company Wayne McGregor and Paris Opera Ballet; Gerhard Richter and Arvo Pärt dedicating work to each other for Richter/Pärt and FKA twigs’ Soundtrack 7 residency where audiences observed the artist’s creative process at close quarters.
The Festival works with co-commissioning partners around the world to create and present new productions, partnerships which not only help make these new commissions possible but also extend the audiences and lifespan of the shows.35 MIF shows have gone on to have a life outside the Festival, visiting Park Avenue Armory in New York, the Ruhrtriennale in Germany, the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Festival d’Automne in Paris, Spoleto Festival dei 2Mondi in Italy and many more.
Through MIF’s creative learning initiative MIF Creative, the Festival has successfully engaged with Manchester’s diverse communities in imaginative ways, with commissions including Jeremy Deller’s Procession, Justin Fletcher’s The Tale of Mr Tumble, the multi faith Sacred Sounds project and international dance exchange FlexN Manchester. Since 2009, almost 12,000 people have participated in MIF Creative commissions, as well as skills and development opportunities as part of MIF Learning.
In addition to income from co-commissioners and ticket sales, MIF receives support from private sponsorship, individuals and trusts and foundations. This money is raised by building on the solid support MIF enjoys from Manchester City Council and Arts Council England, the Festival’s principal public funders.
‘Few cultural events have established themselves with such clarity and self-confidence as the Manchester International Festival... MIF has quickly taught audiences to expect the unexpected.
Peter Aspden, The Financial Times, July 2015
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