Manchester Artists who made MIF19

Artists from more than 20 countries presented world and UK premieres and special events at this year’s MIF, including Laurie Anderson, Idris Elba, Philip Glass, David Lynch, Yoko Ono, and Skepta. But as in previous years, MIF19 also featured a huge roster of exceptional Manchester based artists who all individually showcased to the world the extraordinary calibre and diversity of creative talent that the city has to offer.

As we head towards the opening of The Factory, we are looking forward to continuing to work with and celebrate that creative talent. To mark the launch of our new Artist Assembly network, we took a look back at just a few of the Manchester names who made MIF19…


Maxine PeakeThe Nico Project

A returning MIF star who needs no introduction in this city; theatre, television and film actress Maxine Peake for MIF19 became Nico, one of Manchester’s most enigmatic pop culture icons, in a stirring theatrical immersion into her sound, her identity and the world in which she fought to be heard. Maxine was joined by local musicians from Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music who in October following MIF19 travelled with Maxine to Melbourne, Australia to present the production there. Born in Bolton, Maxine was a member of both the Octagon Theatre and the Royal Exchange Young companies and attended Salford College of Technology.


Phelim McDermott – Tao of Glass

(c) Tristram Kenton

Award winning theatre director Phelim McDermott, grew up in Manchester in the 60s and 70s and as a child dreamed of directing a play for the Royal Exchange theatre. Since then, Phelim has performed and directed all over the world with some of the greatest names in the industry but for MIF19 Phelim returned to his hometown for a unique and intimate tribute to his musical hero, the legendary Philip Glass.


DJ Paulette Festival Square & Janelle Monáe

In a career spanning more than two decades and three countries – DJ Paulette has been a resident at some of the biggest and best clubs in the world, but it all started in Manchester at the Hacienda in 1992 at its monthly gay night Flesh. For MIF19 Paulette headlined the Festival Square stage to a home crowd on our opening weekend and warmed up for the incredible pop icon Janelle Monáe on opening night.


Dave HaslamFestival Square and Interdependence

Manchester household name Dave Haslam returned to the Festival as both a curator and DJ for Festival Square for MIF19. In a special one-off event as part of Interdependence, the former Hacienda DJ joined Polish journalist and culture critic Agata Pyzik for a fascinating conversation exploring the meaning and manifestation of modern revolution. Dave arrived in Manchester in 1980 and has since made his mark as a DJ, curator, writer, broadcaster, label founder and teacher working with everyone from New Order and Depeche Mode to Gorillaz and The Stone Roses.


Rebecca Swarray (RebeccaNeverBecky)Festival Square

Rebecca only founded RebeccaNeverBecky in early 2019, a collective which showcases new and emerging BAME, LGBT+ & QTIPOC Manchester DJs and creatives, but Rebecca has already established herself and her team as staple component of Manchester’s queer dance music scene. We asked Rebecca to programme the final Friday night party of MIF19 at Festival Square with the help of Queer clubbing aficionados Kiss Me Again. It was a night to remember.


Darren Pritchard (House of Ghetto)Festival Square and Janelle Monáe

Performer, choreographer, teacher, producer and Artistic Director of Black Gold Arts Festival, Darren Pritchard led the House of Ghetto, a Manchester-based arts organisation working predominantly with LGBTQ+ working-class people of colour, in two explosive performances at MIF19; one at Festival Square and another in Castlefield Bowl ahead of Janelle Monáe’s unforgettable performance on opening night.


Mary Anne HobbsQueens of the Electronic Underground

Salford based BBC Radio 6 Music DJ, Mary Anne Hobbs ran away from Preston to London aged 18 to live with a band in a bus. Mary Anne had her sights set high however and has, since returning up north, toured the world for now over a decade, as both a DJ and curator. As well as curating an all-star line-up of female electronic music artists for Queens of The Electronic Underground at MIF19 and co-curating the David Lynch music programme at HOME, Mary Anne is also Artistic Advisor to the Festival.


Afrodeutsche Queens of the Electronic Underground


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Henrietta Smith-Rolla, the Manchester based artist better known as Afrodeutsche, performed with us at Queens of The Electronic Underground, a specially curated lineup on the final weekend of the Festival of female electronic music artists from around the world, including Holly Herndon and Jlin. Hernrietta was praised by the Guardian for “enacting a new wave of club music” and named by Dummy Mag as one of 2019’s most exciting artists.


Lemn SissayInterdependence and ReCreating Europe

(c) Hamish Brown

BAFTA nominated and award-winning writer, poet, performer and playwright, Lemn Sissay MBE was one of six writers and performers who took to the stage for the highly political MIF19 production, ReCreating Europe. Born in Wigan and Chancellor of the University of Manchester since 2015, Manchester is central to Lemn’s story and he discussed some of what the city means to him in a special one-off public conversation about religions, myths and stories as part of Interdependence.


Yandass NdlovuAlphabus and Icaria

Yandass was one of seven Manchester performers, including four poets from Young Identity, starring in Reggie Reg Roc Gray’s MIF19 spoken-word and street-dance mash up, Alphabus. Yandass was also the star of Icaria, a NOWNESS and MIF collaborative film created by Emmy-nominated director Fx Goby and inspired by the themes of Alphabus.


Isaiah HullAlphabus and MIF Originals

As well as starring in MIF19’s spoken-word and street dance spectacular, Alphabus, the Young Identity poet Isaiah Hull was the host of our premiere podcast series ‘MIF Originals’ in which Isaiah asked MIF19 artists, including Adam Thirlwell, Phelim McDermott, Tania Bruguera and Sybylle Peters; Why is it important to have new ideas? Is it still possible to be original?


Michael Symmons Roberts The Anvil and Interdependence

Award winning poet and Professor of Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, Michael Symmons Roberts created a new musical work for MIF19 with composer Emily Howard, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and a massed chorus featuring the BBC Singers and three Hallé choirs, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Peterloo. The Peterloo Massacre was a pivotal moment in Manchester and British history, a landmark moment on the road to democracy.


Keisha ThompsonThe Anvil

(c) Ape Ninja

Manchester based writer, performance artist and producer Keisha Thompson is the Young People’s Producer at Contact, chair of radical arts funding body, Future’s Venture Foundation, a fellow of the MOBO x London Theatre Consortium Fellowship and a member of Greater Manchester Cultural and Heritage Group. In between touring her award-winning solo show, Man on the Moon and launching her debut book and album, Keisha joined the MIF19 artistic team for The Anvil, a series of artistic interventions led by Irish theatre company ANU, commemorating those who died at Peterloo but also by the lives, stories and concerns of those living in Manchester today. 


Nasima BegumThe Anvil and Jerwood Arts Fellowship

Poet, producer and creative practitioner Nasima was one of five Manchester based artists selected for the MIF19 Jerwood Arts Fellowship, which awarded artists with behind the scenes access to major MIF productions and an artistic development bursary. Nasima shadowed Irish theatre company ANU as they created The Anvil and ended up becoming a performer herself in the artwork. Nasima is a board member of Young Identity who we also worked with during MIF19 and is also currently the Youth Development Lead and Acting Coordinator for the Manchester Bangladeshi Women’s Organisation.



(c) Richard Tymon

In the run up to MIF19 Joe Hartley, along with Jess Higham and Ben Young at Standard Practice delivered hundreds of bell-making workshops for local people across Greater Manchester ahead of Yoko Ono’s MIF19 opening event BELLS FOR PEACE, which saw thousands gather in Cathedral Gardens to welcome the world to Manchester. Joe also ran NIGHT ON THE TILES in early 2019, a series of public workshops during which hundreds of unique ceramic tiles were made which went on to decorate Festival Square.

As well as these 15 artists, countless other Mancunians joined us for MIF19 as artists, curators, volunteers, chefs, teachers, participants, hosts, technicians, guides, speakers, directors and more.

If you are a Manchester-based artist interested in finding out more about our plans for the future, come along to our monthly Artists Assembly to hear more about upcoming creative opportunities and to share ideas with fellow artists and the MIF team. For more info contact

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