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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


With the impact of Covid-19 on artists and the creative community still ongoing, Manchester International Festival (MIF) continues to develop its activities aimed at supporting local artists. Over the past few weeks, 35 artists and performers from across Greater Manchester have been supported to develop work, some of which has been presented through their own channels, or as part of MIF’s online programme, MIF LIVE.

16 Manchester-based artists have undertaken Remote Residencies to develop a variety of projects during the lockdown.

These include Tom Halls’ creative voicemail platform HOTLINE; David McFarlane’s weather-responsive music device Rain Box; an online exhibition of deaf and disabled artists, Art Unlocked, Unearthed curated by Jennifer Gilbert;

Hero Worship, a series of nine portraits by Cheddar Gorgeous, being released on Instagram; and Meet You There, a series of ten poems by Ella Otomewo. Also created during Remote Residencies are Receive and React, a series of performative portraits by the legendary Manchester-based performance artist David Hoyle, presented on his Instagram; Class of 2020, a digital photographic yearbook by Michael Kelly;

Cheddar Gorgeous

and a new work from Katbrownsugar exploring production and



Other work created during the lockdown includes Mark Croasdale’s ten part micro-series Landbreaks, Josh Wilkinson’s Chattin: The Big Chat, Corona Convo,

documenting voices and opinions during lockdown across Greater Manchester, Juliet Davis’ free seed and compost scheme Let’s Keep Growing…at home, and Tina Finch’s Creative Young Carers project. Some artists have developed work for Festival in My House…And Yours, which has been broadcast on MIF’s YouTube channel as part of the MIF Live programme, including poets Hafsah Aneela Bashir and Roma Havers; the voguing House of Noir; dancer, actor and choreographer Yandass Ndlovu; performance artist Chanje Kunda, DJ Collective RebeccaNeverBecky; and MC and DJ Chunky. Further information and the other artists being supported to make work is available on the MIF website.

Greater Manchester-based artists are also being given the opportunity to present and talk about their work, alongside artists from across the globe at MIF’s Weekly Online Drop-ins, which now take place every Thursday at 2pm. Hosted by MIF’s Artistic Director John McGrath and Creative Director Mark Ball, these offer a space for artists and freelancers to share experiences and exchange ideas and the continue to evolve, based on the input of everyone attending them.

This week’s drop-in (Thursday 4 June) includes Manchester-based Yandass Ndlovu, who has worked with MIF, and Royal Exchange Theatre and Ivan Blackstock, the award-winning artistic director of CRXSS PLATFXRM, who has worked with the likes of Kylie Minogue, Pet Shop Boys, ZooNation, and the Young Vic, as well as on the London 2012 Games Opening Ceremony and Dancing with the Stars USA. Future drop-in artists, with more to be confirmed, include Roy Weise, joint Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange Theatre, and writer, theatre and film director Lola Arias (11 June); drag artist Cheddar Gorgeous and theatre-maker, singer and creative practitioner Simone French (18 June); and Factory commissioned photographers Pawel Paniczko and Hélène Binet (2 July).

This latest programme of support for Greater Manchester artists builds on other activities, which MIF organises year-round, enabling people to connect, get creative and showcase work. This includes Festival in My House, opportunities to participate in MIF shows and perform during the Festival, working with Manchester Street Poem and skills development and training.

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