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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


With the creative community seriously affected by the COVID-19 crisis, Manchester International Festival (MIF) has been hosting regular online Artist Drop-Ins to offer support and provide a space for creatives of all kinds to keep in touch and share experiences. Guest speakers have included Manchester-based creatives Pawel Paniczko, Jessica El Mal, and Adam Szabo, as well as international artists Hélène Binet, Lola Arias and Huang Ruo.

Next week’s Artist Drop-In, on Thursday 20 August, will see Theatre-maker Simone French and drag legend Cheddar Gorgeous, host ‘MIF Matchmakers’ which will connect artists who are looking to start a new collaboration whilst in solitary confinement.

Cheddar and Simone say “MIF Matchmakers is a creative date-line to help local artists find the perfect collaborative match and also make all of us a little bit more aware of the amazing talent that we have here in the city. This is about growing connections between artists and organisations like the Festival. Each artist will talk about themselves, their practice and what they are looking for in a dream collaborative partner, or partners… no judgement here!

Known for her unicorn, alien, and other fantastical drag performances, Cheddar Gorgeous is one of the UK’s most celebrated drag queens with over 112,000 online followers. The ‘drag daddy’ of the Family Gorgeous, Cheddar is one of the driving forces of Manchester’s Home of Fabulous, Cha Cha Boudoir, an infamous and inclusive late-night club cabaret for spectacular creatures. More recently, Cheddar is one of the stars of Channel 4’s new hit show Drag SOS.

Her project ‘Hero Worship’, developed through a recent Remote Residency with MIF, is a series of nine photographic portraits showcasing unique drag ‘looks’. Each ‘look’ is made up of specially-designed makeup design and costume pieces that pay homage to a different group of key workers serving our communities during the COVID-19 crisis.

Emphasising strong female voices, Simone French is an unconventional theatre-maker, performer, vocalist and arts community facilitator. She is Co-Artistic Director of TomYumSim - an outrageously absurd performance duo, known for queer participatory theatre and transforming unusual spaces into bespoke theatrical worlds.

Whether longing to connect with someone who shares your specialism, looking for help with a particular practice, or just up for seeing how an unexpected collaboration might unfold, MIF Matchmakers wants you to get involved.

Feedback from previous pairings “It was a match made in heaven. These were the first people I’ve got to meet in lockdown, I found this queer friendly space and matched with an artist that is so exciting.”

“Probably one of the best ways to meet new artists.”

MIF’s Artist Drop-Ins take place every Thursday at 2pm and are free. Following MIF Matchmakers will be a session with renowned and award-winning poet, playwright and performer Louise Wallwein alongside artist, writer and director Scottee, on Thursday 27 August, 2pm.

Go to to find out more.

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