I joined MIF as a Pioneer in the first place, which was about four festivals ago. I was living in London at the time, but had family in Manchester. I was always up and down, and I was interested in anything going on in the arts in Manchester. I was a patron of the art gallery, involved in the Library Theatre, and very interested in theatre, music and especially dance. I was very plugged in! The festival sounded like it was a bit of everything.

I moved up to Commissioning Circle as a supporter a few years ago. It’s ten times as much support from me, financially, but I can get so much more involved. I get to meet the artists, to hear about what they’re doing, first hand. So for example, last night, I went to a Fatherland rehearsal at the Royal Exchange, and Karl Hyde was telling us all kinds of things about the show, about his love for the building – he went to a show in the 80s and thought the sound quality was so fantastic that he always had it in mind for a show. And here he is, 30 years later! And that’s the kind of money-can’t-buy experience that I can have by offering this support.

‘There’s a different vibe this year – there’s definitely more of a local feel’

I love that interaction, and knowing from the beginning about a project, not just coming in at the end. I like to see the development. Also, it’s a small group of people, the Commissioning Circle, so I’ve got to know them all and become friends. It gives you a real sense of ownership – I talk about our festival now, rather than the festival. I feel part of it.

There’s a different vibe this year – there’s definitely more of a local feel. Obviously the first event, What is The City?, is all local people. I’ve met lots of the artists, and we choose what things we want to get involved with as a group. I always have friends come to stay during the festival to see shows, which I love. It’s nice to be in the know and share it with people. I like so many aspects of the Festival because of the high quality of the work from top international artists.

There’s a few things I’m really excited about this year; I’ve seen two rehearsals for Fatherland,  which looks just outstanding and very moving. Bearing in mind it’s all about men, fathers and sons, I didn’t think I’d feel that connected to it, but actually you get a feeling of something very special happening from the moment you walk into the room. The other thing I’m most excited about is Party Skills For the End of the World, which looks spectacular in a very different way. And that’s what I love about the festival – the new and interesting things, I don’t want to stick with the same old stuff!

Jane Sorrell is a member of the Commissioning Circle. Find out more about the ways in which you can support MIF here.

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