Highlights of the first two festivals include Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlett and 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 Olafur Eliasson; Zaha Hadid Architects’ new space for the music of Bach and It Felt Like a Kiss, a collaboration between filmmaker Adam Curtis and theatre company Punchdrunk.
The third Festival in summer 2011 presented Bjork’s ambitious three week Biophilia residency; director Robert Wilson’s startling new piece for the stage, The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic, starring Abramovic, Willem Dafoe and Antony (Antony & the Johnsons); uplifting evenings of devotional music in local places of worship with MIF Creative’s Sacred Sites; the electrifying live art show 11 Rooms; Victoria Wood’s glorious new musical That Day We Sang, and new work for children of all ages in participatory sonic experience Music Boxes and Doctor Who adventure The Crash of the Elysium. An extended programme in the Festival’s Pavilion Theatre saw appearances from Johnny Vegas, Paul Heaton,Sinead O’Connor and Candi Staton, plus artist in conversations and new band nights in the True Faith series. With impromptu free performances, Djs and a late bar, the Festival Pavilion was once again the heart of the Manchester International Festival experience.
Recent evaluation of the 2011 Festival demonstrates that MIF has made considerable strides in building on the achievements of the festivals in 2007 and 2009 to deliver an even more successful third edition in 2011. MIF 11 presented 20 new commissions over 213 performances, with 230,000 attendances; it generated an economic impact of £37.6 million and recruited 383 volunteers.
Press coverage was up almost 20% on MIF 09, at over £23 million AEV (advertising equivalent value). Of particular interest was the rise in international coverage and national news broadcast coverage; during a busy summer season, this put MIF and Manchester at the top of the arts agenda.
“It is this artist-led vision and can-do attitude that have made it one of the most exciting art events in Britain.”
Coline Milliard, International Herald Tribune, 25 June 2011
“In its third season, the biennial Manchester International Festival is cementing its status as Britain’s most innovative arts festival.”
Dan Cairns, Sunday Times Culture, 19 July 2011
“MIF has alighted on a unique model… Neither populist nor elitist – and comfortably so – the festival engages both high and low without compromise or dilution.”
Natasha Degen, Frieze Magazine, October 2011
“Manchester International Festival has put itself very firmly on the map as an ambitious, innovative and international arts fixture.”
Sarah Hemmings, Financial Times, 2 July 2011
“Alex Poots and his team have pulled off the ultimate challenge – of staging a festival that genuinely reflects the character of its host city. And they’ve managed to do this without putting off audiences from outside the region.”
Matt Cain, Channel 4 News blog, July 2011
Following the inaugural Manchester International Festival in 2007, MIF developed MIF Creative, a commissioning programme whose aim is to leave a legacy for the Festival by encouraging leading international artists and cultural practitioners to work with local people of all ages and backgrounds to unlock their talent. From the outset, it was determined that the MIF Creative programme would share MIF’s principles of innovation, internationalism and high quality, inspiring cultural work and would stand side by side with the rest of the festival commissions, rather than being tucked away as part of an associated education programme.
In 2011, MIF Creative consisted of four major projects which set out to meet the ambitions of enabling world-class artists to have a presence in local communities whilst developing and delivering ground-breaking work: Sacred Sites, That Day We Sang, Music Boxes and Vertical Farm. During the 2011 Festival, MIF Creative actively engaged with just over 4,000 people (not including audiences) from a very wide range of backgrounds.
MIF is now emerging as a global brand, bringing the world to Manchester once every two years for the Festival – and then taking Manchester out to the world by touring MIF shows nationally and internationally. Many of the shows are co-commissions and co-productions with leading presenters and arts organisations in Manchester, around the UK and across the world. Partners over the first three Festivals include Teatro Real, Madrid; Holland Festival, Amsterdam; le Chatelet, Paris; the Halle, Manchester; Artangel; Theater Basel/Art Basel; Luminato Festival, Toronto. Touring shows include The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic (Madrid, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Basel); Monkey: Journey to the West; Prima Donna; Oily Cart’s Something in the Air; JS Bach/Zaha Hadid Architects.
MIF receives core funding from Manchester City Council and the Arts Council of England. As well as box office income, sponsorship is a key source of funding and MIF partners with a number of supportive corporate partners; top tier sponsors for the 2011 Festival were the Co-operative, Manchester Airport Group, PZ Cussons, Bruntwood and NCP. Funds from co-commissioning work has become a key source of income for MIF, rising from £255,000 in 2007 to £2,228,000 in 2011. The Festival is a charity and additional grant income is also received from a number of trusts and foundations; their support is key to the MIF Creative programme. The turnover of the 2011 Festival was just over £11 million; the budget for MIF13 is expected to be broadly similar.
The fourth Manchester International Festival runs from 4 – 21 July 2013.