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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


It is heartening to see young creatives given a platform to share their creativity. Secondary schools from across Greater Manchester are taking part in a talent showcase as part of Manchester International Festival (1-18 July) in a new collaboration between Manchester International Festival (MIF) and Manchester United Foundation.

Judged by former England and Manchester United player and MIF board member Gary Neville and representatives from MIF and Manchester United Foundation, finalists from eight local schools have been selected to perform on Saturday 3 July, live on Festival Square, the hub of MIF in Manchester city centre.

The project has been developed in response to the extraordinary situation many young people have faced over the last year and offers an opportunity for pupils to increase their confidence and wellbeing, alongside providing a platform to develop and showcase young talent across the city.

The performers have been selected from Manchester United Foundation partner schools across Greater Manchester. They include dance acts, a rap artist, singers and a band from Great Academy Ashton (Tameside), St Cuthbert’s RC High School (Rochdale), Copley Academy (Tameside), Dean Trust Ardwick (Longsight), Middleton Technology School (Rochdale), Werneth School (Stockport), Waterhead Academy (Oldham), and Loretto High School (Chorlton).

Located in Cathedral Gardens, Festival Square offers food, drink, free entertainment and family activities throughout the Festival from over 100 artists from Manchester and across the UK. Joining Manchester groups such as KYSO, Chorus of Others and other Greater Manchester performers selected through a public call out earlier this year, the showcase finalists will perform on Festival Square on Saturday 3 July from 12-2pm as part of Our City Our Festival – a free day-long event celebrating the diversity and talent within Greater Manchester communities.

The showcase will be the first in a series of collaborative opportunities created between MIF and Manchester United Foundation in the run up to the opening of The Factory – Manchester’s landmark new cultural space and the future home of MIF.

Gary Neville, former England and Manchester United player and MIF board member said, “After such a challenging year for all, it has been a privilege and a joy to help select such an incredibly talented group of young performers from across Greater Manchester in what will hopefully be the first of many brilliant collaborations between Manchester International Festival and the Manchester United Foundation.”

John Shiels MBE, CEO of Manchester United Foundation, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for pupils from our partner schools; to be able to step out onto a live stage, in front of a live audience, after everything they have experienced this past year is incredible. At the Foundation we aim to make a difference to young people through education and sport, but through partnering with MIF we have been able to extend our offering to so many more young people, which is fantastic to see – and the talent is amazing.”

Turpin, Creative Engagement Director at MIF said, “As we head towards the opening of The Factory, our creative engagement work with schools, children and young people will expand significantly. This new partnership with Manchester United Foundation has introduced some fantastic young talent into this year’s programme – we can’t wait to see them all perform live on Festival Square on the 3 July.”

Other family activities during MIF21 include storytelling, craft workshops and child-friendly gigs for parents and carers on Festival Square, and an uplifting new show mixing dance, music, theatre and puppetry called The Global Playground. Much of the programme will be free to attend this year, with more work than ever in public spaces around the city including a 42-metre sculpture of Big Ben in Piccadilly Gardens made from 20,000 books, and 100 portraits of Black British people, including many from Manchester, exhibited in Manchester Arndale.

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