Looking Forward To Tomorrow Gallery image 8

Every festival hundreds of people across Greater Manchester get involved in one of the major events in the Festival. You don’t have to be an artist or creative to join in, you just have to be open to trying something new. If you’d like to register interest in being involved in a future project, contact us at creativeengagement@mif.co.uk.

Calling all Community Organisations

Get £10,000 in financial support towards a community partnership pilot programme


Take part in an extraordinary event to celebrate the birth of your child

Manchester International Festival presents Sea Change. Credit Matt Humphrey (10) Manchester International Festival presents Sea Change. Credit Matt Humphrey (10)

Sea Change

The opening night of MIF21 saw 140 Greater Manchester residents join French choreographer Boris Charmatz and his dancers for a daring new dance work designed for Deansgate.

Sea Change filled the street with a chain of professional and non-professional dancers, each performing and repeating a section of choreography. Rather than the work moving on in front of the audience, it was up to audiences to ‘move on’ the work: walking or even running past waves of dancers to animate the action into their very own living flipbooks.

Created especially for the Festival, Sea Change made for a unique and captivating response to the pandemic – a celebration of togetherness in a post-lockdown world.

Cephas Williams - Portrait of Black Britain at Manchester International Festival 2021 _ credit Fabio De Paola Cephas Williams - Portrait of Black Britain at Manchester International Festival 2021 _ credit Fabio De Paola

Portrait of Black Britain

Conceived and created by Cephas Williams, creator of 56 Black Men, Letter to Zion and the Black British Network, Portrait of Black Britain was a major public exhibition at Manchester Arndale profiling Black people living in the UK today.

Capturing a wide range of society, 50 residents from Greater Manchester were peer-nominated to take part. The exhibition in Manchester was the first phase of a project that will ultimately lead to Cephas Williams building the largest collection of photographic portraits of Black British people ever created.

I Love You Too book launch at Central Library - credit Ebun Andu 098A1138 I Love You Too book launch at Central Library - credit Ebun Andu 098A1138

I Love You Too

South African artist Kemang Wa Lehulere spent MIF19 in residence in Manchester’s network of libraries – and two years on, we’ve published I Love You Too, a beautiful book inspired by the time he spent in the city.

At the start of 2021, Wa Lehulere invited more than 100 people from across Manchester to share with us their love stories: to people, to places, even to possessions. Through a series of online and in-person meetings, a group of 11 Manchester writers put their words on to the page. The result is I Love You Too, a personal, powerful and inspiring 232-page hardback book of love letters rooted in our city – and the first in an international series.

Looking Forward To Tomorrow Gallery image 7

Lee Baxter

Looking Forward To Tomorrow

For MIF21, Manchester residents took over the curation of the Festival’s talks and discussions series, building on MIF’s pioneering work with the community as artistic collaborators, such as Festival in My House where Greater Manchester residents programmed their own international micro-festivals. Featuring a range of speakers, including artists, activists, key workers, campaigners and members of the Greater Manchester community, Looking Forward to Tomorrow explored some of the big issues of the day including the climate emergency and anti-Black racism.


BELLS FOR PEACE, our opening event, included a people’s orchestra of handcrafted ceramic bells which were designed and created by hundreds of Greater Manchester residents at special workshops throughout the city and across the region.

a classroom with desks

Rob Connor

School of Integration artist Tania Bruguera and over 100 people who have made Manchester their home from another country took over Manchester Art Gallery to deliver unique classes, from food, customs, ethics, politics and many other forms of knowledge.

Actor dressed as a paramedic

Chris Payne

The Anvil, a day-long series of performances across Manchester inspired by the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, was created by immersive theatre group ANU with people from across Greater Manchester – from cyclists to gardeners, activists to medical students.

Ariel shot of participants in Manchester Central Library

Lee Baxter

Utopolis Manchester began at a host of venues throughout the city centre – from cafés and shops to hair salons and dance studios. Our 67 hosts created new audio material for the show welcomed audience members during the show’s run.

Actors performing a wedding scene on stage, one actor has his hand raised in the air

Chris Payne

Tuesday starred a 30-strong chorus of Salford residents and amateur singers in this beautiful site-specific theatre for children and adults at the Grade I listed Victorian church of St Augustine’s, Pendlebury.

A dog sits infront of a blackboard which reads 'Back at 3.30pm - Teacher's Stevie the dog'

Chris Payne

Animals of Manchester took place on our closing weekend and featured activities co-hosted by a team of Young Ambassadors from Claremont Primary School in Moss Side, and by classes of children from Holy Trinity C of E Primary School in Moston.

Parliment of Ghosts exhibition at inside The Whitworth

MIchael Pollard

Parliament of Ghosts included a team of 30 ‘Everyday Experts’ working alongside artist Ibrahim Mahama, curators and conservation teams at the Whitworth to encourage visitors of all ages to explore an extraordinary collection of historical documents from Ghana.