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The incredible impact Manchester International Festival had on the city

Manchester international Festival (MIF) was once again, a roaring success. But how do we measure success these days?
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It’s one of the highlights of the Manchester calendar, and once again Manchester International Festival did not disappoint.

With world-class shows, incredible performances, and using local people to make it work – by any metric, the festival was a huge success.

So let’s break down how it all was put together.

Manchester International Festival

A scene from Free Your Mind.  ©Tristram Kenton 

Last summer saw the ninth edition of the biennial festival take place from 29 June to 16 July with new work from artists including Ryan Gander, Maxine Peake, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Tino Sehgal and Juan Mata, and music from John Grant, Angélique Kidjo, Alison Goldfrapp and more.

As well as presenting events at venues across the city, for the first time the festival also presented events at Aviva Studios – the city’s landmark news cultural venue – with over 230,000 visitors taking up the opportunity to preview the building ahead of its official opening last October.

Yayoi Kusama

Manchester International Festival Yayoi Kusama
‘Yayoi Kusama: You, Me and the Balloons’  © David Levene

A major exhibition of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s inflatable sculptures formed a centrepiece of the Festival, the first work to be presented at Factory International’s new home, Aviva Studios.

You, Me and the Balloons took over the vast warehouse space of the building, inviting audiences to take an exhilarating journey through Kusama’s psychedelic creations, most of which had not been seen before in the UK.

A diverse programme of music acts took to the stage in the Hall of Aviva Studios, including Angélique Kidjo, Alison Goldfrapp and revered Sufi singer Sanam Marvi, a collaboration between AFRODEUTSCHE and Manchester Camerata, as well as the premiere of a new show from John Grant and the Richard Hawley band celebrating pop and country legend Patsy Cline.

An incredible economic boost

A scene from Free Your Mind. ©Tristram Kenton

But how do we measure that success?

To put it in purely monetary terms – A report to the council’s Economy and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee (6 February) revealed that last summer’s Manchester International Festival attracted over 325,000 visitors to the city and generated £39.2m of economic activity.

Nearly £40m re-invested in the city. What a fantastic result.

But it’s not just the money, the incredible prestige of having these great artists showcase their work in the city should be a source of pride for us all.

Manchester – the world-class city

Free Your Mind Manchester International Festival
©Tristram Kenton

It’s a great time to be in the city, with so many world-class events going on seemingly every week.

The report also highlights the success of Aviva Studios, the city’s landmark new cultural venue, both in the run-up to its official opening in October and in its opening season, which began with the spectacular Free Your Mind directed by Danny Boyle and written, choreographed and composed by a world-class creative team including Es Devlin, Boy Blue co-founders Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy and Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante and Sabrina Mahfouz, and featuring over 50 dancers from the North West and across the UK.

Getting local people involved with Manchester International Festival

Manchester International Festival
©Tristram Kenton

While full of free events, there was a huge focus from MIF on getting the Manchester local people involved.

A record number of 428 volunteers from across the region helped bring MIF23 to life getting involved in everything from supporting shows behind the scenes to being the face of the festival. Over 96 per cent of the volunteers rated their volunteering experience as excellent or good.

Factory International also offered paid opportunities to more than 150 local musicians and performers from Manchester and the city region to showcase their talents live onstage at Festival Square, with performances ranging from indie and punk bands and classical contemporary collectives to hip hop artists, community choirs and dance troupes.

Over 1,160 children and 25 schools were involved in creative activities as part of MIF23 – including a creative fashion project responding to the iconic style of Yayoi Kusama and culminating in a fashion show on Festival Square.

You can find out more on their website by clicking here

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