My name is Margaux and I am currently studying for the MEnt in Arts and Cultural Management at the University of Manchester. As part of my course I had the opportunity to undertake a 21 days placement with an arts organisation in the North West. I was delighted when I found out I had been placed with Manchester International Festival. I have a keen interest in music and arts festivals, having worked in the field for the past four years and even basing my dissertation around the subject.
Manchester International Festival (MIF) is a biennial festival of new and daring creative work. The festival commissions new pieces every two years (approximately 20 this year) working with artists such as Björk, Damon Albarn, Maxine Peake or Arvo Pärt. It is an important part of the creative and cultural scene of Manchester and it was a big part of the development of Manchester as a ‘creative destination’.
The programme launch of the festival was on the 5th of March. The whole office was in a rush of activity in the few weeks coming up to it and I had the opportunity to be a part of it. By the time D-day arrived, I already knew the programme by heart, but was quite looking forward to seeing the presentation by Alex Poots (CEO and artistic director) and the few artists he invited over. The event was held in the old Granada Studios that are also being used for a few of this year’s commissions (FKA Twigs, Age of Starlight and Flex). The whole team was running around going back and forth between the offices and the studios (a mere 10 minutes walk) bringing props and lists and flowers and tea… (a whole load of tea!)
The studio that I had previously seen empty was now filled with chairs and a stage for the launch. Food trucks were in the corridor and MIF staff were now in place, nervously waiting for the 400+ people to arrive. I was mostly standing around with Chloe, a new artist liaison intern who had started earlier in the week. It can be a bit difficult in these situations to know where to go and what to do when everyone else is so involved in their own roles. Volunteers or interns often end up feeling quite useless not being able to take any initiatives. We were asked to go mingle once the guests arrived and so we did, making the most of the free food and hot chocolate.
The presentation itself went smoothly. A seemingly intoxicated Douglas Gordon came on stage and gave a little comic performance, making the public and Alex Poots laugh. The commissions were announced and explained to the public with dates and venues. Journalists in the room were live tweeting the event and already news articles were online. The highlight of the event was the performance from Flex, a group of dancers from Brooklyn. A few members of the crew flew over from New York City for the launch and made the public squeak in a mix of disgust and amazement with their contortion moves.
All in all, it was a successful event. The guests left the building with a full stomach from free street food and with two days ahead of them to decide which commission they would buy tickets for. Personally, I will hopefully see Tree of Codes and attend the Warehouse Project event. Although I could also get tempted by Neck of the Woods. And The Skriker. And maybe, just maybe, Age of Starlight. I should probably start saving up…
Manchester International Festival. 2-19th July 2015. Tickets on sale here : http://www.mif.co.uk/