This year’s Manchester International Festival (MIF19) was the biggest yet, with more than 1,000 ticketed events drawing record numbers and delivering an economic impact of £50m – up from £40.2 million in 2017.
It was the second festival led by Artistic Director John McGrath with events ranging from dance, theatre, music and visual arts, to site-specific performance and immersive installations.
Over 18 extraordinary days Manchester welcomed the world, with the seventh edition of the biennial Festival attracting more than 302,000 visitors, drawn from over 40 countries, as well as from across the city and rest of the UK.
Artists from more than 20 countries presented world and UK premieres and special events at venues and spaces across Manchester, including Laurie Anderson, Tania Bruguera, Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah, Philip Glass and Phelim McDermott, David Lynch, Ibrahim Mahama, Janelle Monáe, Yoko Ono, Maxine Peake and Skepta.
Underpinning the city’s status as a major centre for culture and creativity, nine of this year’s commissions are already confirmed to tour nationally and internationally in cities across the globe.
Closer to home, the number of volunteers increased to more than 500 and local artists and residents from across the city played a key role in the Festival in greater numbers than ever. Almost 6,000 people were involved in MIF19 engagement activities including workshops, skills development programmes and resident-led public conversations
A record number of commissions were participatory, placing the people of Manchester and beyond centre stage. Thousands of residents and visitors came together to ring out for peace at Yoko Ono’s opening event BELLS FOR PEACE; 40 city centre businesses and residents hosted Rimini Protokoll’s transcendent city tour Utopolis Manchester; and Cuban artist Tania Bruguera’s School of Integration saw hundreds of members of the city’s migrant communities become teachers to share their experiences, skills and knowledge with the wider community.
A revamped Festival Square, whose programme of good food and free entertainment attracted its largest ever numbers – 165,000 – also saw Manchester-based artists take to the hugely popular stage, alongside the likes of Nitin Sawhney, Horace Andy and Laurie Anderson.
Underlining MIF’s commitment to enabling more people to experience the Festival, 35% of all tickets were available at £10 or less to Greater Manchester residents and a further 2,500 were given free via community groups around the city.
The next Manchester International Festival will take place in July 2021.