MIF remembers Michael Oglesby CBE DL

Like many organisations across the city and beyond, Michael Oglesby was hugely influential for us, playing a key role in the development and success of Manchester International Festival. Michael was an early MIF supporter, whose commitment never wavered. We’ve benefited greatly from his personal support and that of his family through their company Bruntwood, who have been top tier sponsors throughout all seven editions. The Oglesby Charitable Trust has also supported several MIF Creative Engagement projects, involving people living across Greater Manchester, and current Bruntwood CEO Chris Oglesby continues to sit on our Board.

Ahead of Michael’s memorial at Manchester Cathedral tomorrow, here are some personal reflections from a few of the people that knew him.


As one of this city’s most revered business leaders, Michael Oglesby’s early pioneering support of MIF, gave invaluable confidence and momentum to this city’s nascent International Festival. I believe Michael did this because he understood the value the arts can have and their civilizing force. Sincere thoughts and condolences are with Jean, Chris, Kate and his family. 

Alex Poots, MIF Founding Artistic Director


Michael gave me my first break in property, leasing me a skint graduate space to set up Afflecks Arcade when no one else would…  He also backed MIF right from the very beginning, Michael was a committed friend and ally of MIF. He immediately got what we were about, a festival that would break the mould and would help position Manchester, a city we both loved, on the international stage. And it’s his love of Manchester that can be felt across the city, not just through the buildings and developments that bear the Bruntwood name, but through the causes that he supported, in particular the cultural organisations and initiatives, from the Royal Exchange Theatre to the recently opened and very wonderful Hallé at St Michael’s. He will be very much missed, but Michael leaves an enormous legacy, including MIF.

Tom Bloxham MBE, MIF Chair


I first met the wonderful Michael Oglesby in November, 2004. I remember it as though it was yesterday. Sir Howard Bernstein had gathered a small number of influential Manchester business leaders so that Alex and I could share with them what Manchester International Festival might look like.  It was a seminal moment for us, made even more special as it was in one of the beautiful Town Hall state rooms.

Mike was both thoughtful and tough with his questions. From very early on, Mike became a treasured advisor and friend – he, fortunately, agreed to be a founding member of the MIF Board.

It was evident he cared passionately both about Manchester and the arts. He immediately got the vision for MIF and could imagine what it could enable for the region. He was keen to explore our intentions from every angle and his questions were always thought-provoking.

Since the first MIF in 2007, Bruntwood have been a top tier sponsor. I can honestly say that without Mike, Jean, Chris and Kate’s support MIF would not be where it is today. Mike and his amazing family approach business with dignity, integrity, passion and kindness. It’s a rare thing indeed, but something to be admired and cherished, as he was.

Mike was a genuinely amazing man who cared a lot about the things that matter. I’ll miss him greatly.

Christine Cort, MIF Managing Director


Michael was instrumental to Manchester’s renaissance as a city where culture is at the heart of civic, business and social life. His vision for the ways in which business could work hand-in-hand with arts organisations to invest, inspire and engage has shaped the cultural life of our city. He will be sorely missed, but his influence will truly live on.  For Manchester International Festival, Michael was a founding supporter, and his great influence brought many more to the table – making the ambition of the festival possible. We would not be here in the way that we are without him. 

John McGrath, MIF Artistic Director & Chief Executive


End of article.