For a decade or so from mid-80s to mid-90s I was involved in one way or another in one Manchester Festival after another. Organising, raising money, producing print, producing multimedia extravaganzas, world premieres, and (sometimes) shotgun-for-ya socio-cultural events.
With the possible exception of the Manchester Olympic Festival in 1990 and the City of Drama in 1994 this civic Festival, though generally in the top-ten nationally, even after losing the stonking Manchester Organ Festival as a major draw (er, not), this civic event was a success despite being generally very seriously under-resourced, very make-do-and-mend, very scrimp-and-save, very just-getting-away-with-it.
The Manchester International Festival in contrast has a proper budget, a proper level of ambition and scope to go with it, and MIF hit the ground running in 2007 with nationally and globally significant events. A good deal of which may have been far too up themselves to reach the working people of the hardest working town in show business.
This year's MIF 09 Procession - a work with Turner Prize winning Jeremy Deller (e.g. Orgreave recreation) - has it's feet very firmly on the ground. Good to see. You can read a little about it, here and you can read more and perhaps get involved, here.
Were your ancestors at the Peterloo Massacre on 16 August 1819? On either side of the argument, or just looking on? Get in Touch!
Were you part of the crowds that welcomed cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin to Manchester on 12 July 1961? Get in Touch!
Were you at Granada Studios on 19 March 1964 to watch Jerry Lee Lewis when he performed Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On? Get in Touch!
Did you frequent the Plaza Ballroom in the city, on Oxford Street (not Oxford Road!) in the late 1950s and early 1960s? Get in Touch!
Or any of Jimmy Saville's other nights of madness and mayhem around that time? Did you meet your future partner there, or have other interesting stories? Get in Touch!
All these - just a sample of the twenty banner-led elements of Procession - a bit too ancient or specific for you? Too much like hard work?
Here's one for the slackers ... are you quite simply an unrepentant smoker who'd like to be out and proud about that disgusting habit of yours? Get in Touch!