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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


It is encouraging that the creative community, against increasingly widening odds, are continuing to give us hope.

A beacon of light burning brightly at the end of the, indeterminately long, Covid-19 tunnel is the Manchester International Festival [MIF].

MIF is going ahead with its planning for the 2021 edition of the Festival to be held 1-18 July 2021 and has announce the first event, The Walk.

The Walk is an epic theatrical journey of a nine-year-old refugee girl from the Turkish-Syrian border to Manchester, in the form of a giant living artwork.

Working together with renowned theatre company Good Chance – creators of critically-acclaimed The Jungle – and world-famous creators of War Horse, Handspring Puppet Company, The Walk will see Little Amal – a 3.5 metre tall puppet and an emblem of the millions of displaced refugee children separated from their families - travel 8,000km across Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and the UK in search of her mother. Embodying the urgent message ‘Don’t forget about us’ Little Amal will be welcomed by over 70 cities, towns and villages with art – from major street parades and city-wide performances of music, dance and theatre, to intimate community events, between April and July 2021.

The poignant finale moment on Sunday 4 July – forming a highlight of MIF21’s opening weekend – will be marked with a free large-scale outdoor event in the heart of Greater Manchester, a place that has long welcomed its diverse and dynamic population of refugee and migrant communities, and has the highest concentration of dispersed asylum seekers in the UK outside of London.

A programme of creative engagement activity in the lead up to, and across the Festival’s opening weekend with communities from across Greater Manchester will help to create Little Amal’s welcome.

The Walk will shine a light on the region and its people, as a home and refuge for those who need it. It will build on the legacy of MIF projects such as the Beating Wing Orchestra, ToGather (MIF17), The Welcoming Party (MIF17) and most recently School of Integration (MIF19) which saw over 100 people from over 50 countries take over Manchester Art Gallery to deliver unique classes, from food and customs, to ethics and politics.

John McGrath, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Manchester International Festival said, “We hope that families, communities, schools, friends and neighbours - everyone who calls Greater Manchester their home, will help us welcome Little Amal.”

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