MIF21 Creative Fellowships

Are you an artist or creative practitioner based in Greater Manchester? Would you like to get up close to the creation of major MIF21 commissions and discover how we stage one of the world’s most exciting cultural festivals?

We’re offering five Greater Manchester-based artists and creatives the unique opportunity to connect with our team, our artists and our Festival through five MIF21 Creative Fellowships, which will run from February 2021 until the next Manchester International Festival (1-18 July 2021).

You’ll meet the MIF team and get under the skin of how we create an international Festival – and you’ll also discover how we’re planning our journey towards The Factory, our future year-round home. As well as offering you direct support and connecting you with a mentor, we’ll also offer you the opportunity to visit a national or international partner or place of interest that could inform your future work (COVID-19 restrictions permitting).

The five MIF21 Creative Fellows will each shadow the creation of up to two major Festival commissions between February and July. You’ll get an insider’s view of what goes into the creation, production and presentation of major Festival works – such as Tree, Invisible Cities and School of Integration, which were all shadowed by Creative Fellows at MIF19 – and you’ll be encouraged to reflect on how what you observe and learn could benefit your own practice.

‘It’s been a huge pleasure, a life- and career-affirming experience that has inspired so many ideas and generated so much momentum within me that I feel like I will be working for years to come’ Simon Bray, former MIF Creative Fellow
‘It has had a huge positive impact in my artistic development and taken my practice to a higher level’ Amy Lawrence, former MIF Creative Fellow

What will I receive?

An observational attachment to either one or two MIF21 commissions (we’ll work with you to choose the most suitable projects), with an opportunity to shadow each commission’s creative team between February and July 2021

  • The chance to interact with the MIF team and gain a greater understanding of how the Festival is planned and presented
  • Mentorship from a national or international artist, designed to help you apply what you learn to your own artistic development
  • An opportunity to visit a national or international partner or place of interest that could inform your work
  • Connections to other MIF21 Creative Fellows, supported by a coach–facilitator and shaped to help you to share your learnings and discoveries with one another
  • Access to other MIF21 commissions and special events
  • Financial support through a bursary of up to £3,000 to cover the time you spend on this professional development fellowship


How could I benefit?

Each MIF21 Creative Fellowship has three key strands – observation, insight and development. We’ve designed these strands to support your artistic growth, helping you to develop your knowledge, experience, skills and networks during your Creative Fellowship.



You’ll have the chance to watch, at close quarters, the creation of up to two MIF21 commissions that have strong connections to your practice and/or your ambitions for developing your creativity. You’ll get to spend time with the creative team(s) – either in person or digitally, depending on COVID-19 guidelines – and shadow each work during its creation for MIF21.



MIF21 Creative Fellows will function as a cohort within the wider MIF21 team, supporting and encouraging one another while sharing knowledge, practices and learnings. You’ll:

  • attend MIF team meetings, social events, Q&As and briefings with Festival artists, fostering a two-way dialogue with the team;
  • spend dedicated time with MIF’s producing team, benefiting from in-depth conversations and gaining valuable experience in the creation, production and presentation of international cross-artform commissions; and
  • receive invitations to key MIF21 events such as the Festival launch, the Opening Night Party and Arts Weekend, giving you opportunities for national and international networking and making new industry contacts.



You’ll benefit from direct mentorship to help develop your practice. Building on MIF’s distinct identity as a multi-disciplinary commissioning festival, there’ll be a focus on cross-artform development and experience, and you’ll be invited to journey outside your comfort zone into new artistic environments that stretch your knowledge and skills.


Who can apply?

MIF21 Creative Fellowships are open to independent artists and creative practitioners – performers, musicians, visual artists, creative technologists and many others – who are currently living in Greater Manchester and are within the first ten years of their artistic career.

We’re looking for artists and creatives who feel they are at a pivotal stage in their practice, and who believe they would benefit from access and exposure to the creation of major new works within the fast-paced environment of one of the world’s most exciting cultural festivals. You should look to use your time with us to develop your ambitions, enhance your practice and take your career to the next level.


What will I need to commit?

You can expect to spend the equivalent of 4-6 weeks on your MIF21 Creative Fellowship. This time will be scheduled flexibly in several blocks between February and July 2021 to meet both your needs and the production schedule of your chosen commission(s). All Creative Fellowships are tailored to each Creative Fellow, and we will work with you to create a calendar that fits around your other commitments.


What about COVID-19?

The ongoing pandemic may affect the nature of your interactions with the artists and the MIF team – some of which may have to take place digitally rather than in person, depending on whatever guidelines and regulations are in place during 2021. Please be assured that we’ll do everything we can to make sure you’re as closely connected as possible to the commission(s) you’re shadowing, the team(s) behind it and the wider MIF ecosystem.


How can I apply?

You can apply via our online form, either in writing or by submitting a short video (up to five minutes). However you choose to apply, make sure your application addresses the following points:

  • Summarise your artistic practice and portfolio to date.
  • Explain why you are applying for an MIF21 Creative Fellowship and how it would support a step-change in your artistic practice and career.
  • Discuss how you think you might benefit from working with four of your peers as a cohort of Creative Fellows.
  • If you could learn from or collaborate with any artist or company in the world, who would you choose and why?


Thursday 12 November 2020          Applications open

Friday 11 December 2020, 12pm    Applications close

Wednesday 13 January 2021          Interviews (conducted digitally)

Monday 18 January 2021                Successful applicants contacted



We encourage proposals from people with specific access needs, and are happy to help with both your application process and the Fellowship itself. We also have a discretionary budget set aside to address any specific access requirements in order to ensure each Creative Fellowship is flexible and its outcomes are as inclusive as possible.

If you have any questions or need any support in preparing your application, please email creativeengagement@mif.co.uk and a member of the team will respond. If it’s more convenient, we can also arrange to give you a ring and speak on the phone.


Image: Joel Chester Fildes

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