From taking to the streets for a performance that lights up the city, to residents showing off their culture, passions and expertise as collaborators and curators, to joining a choir throughout the city, or walking the walk on a 100m yellow runway – the people of Manchester have been central to the unique spirit of MIF over the years.

For each edition of MIF hundreds of people across Greater Manchester take part in several of our major events. Now based at our permanent home Aviva Studios, there are even more ways to get involved.

Greater Manchester residents took over the spaces at Aviva Studios during both our official opening show Free Your Mind and nine-day opening celebration The Welcome.

You don’t have to be an artist or creative to join in – you just have to be open to trying something new. Whether that's dancing in the street, telling your story, sharing a meal, raising your voice or speaking your words.

And if behind the scenes work is more your thing, you can also join in by curating with us, or joining one of our Forums, where local residents can inform our approach to access, transportation and a whole lot more.

Past Projects ↓ 
  • Inside Out: This is Manchester

    Over 200 of the greatest Greater Mancunians had their portraits taken and proudly displayed in the Undercroft during The Welcome.
  • Leeroy New: Balete Spacecraft

    As part of The Welcome, Leeroy New ran guided workshops where local residents created embellishments to add to his Balete Spacecraft sculpture in the Social.
  • Free Your Mind

    Community performers and participants took on several roles during our opening show Free Your Mind – dressed as brown coats, white rabbits and red dancers.
  • A Manchester cityscape at nighttime with bright columns of light visible next to the Factory International building.

    Lee Baxter

    First Breath

    We celebrated Greater Manchester’s newest residents in an extraordinary new public art event by artist Luke Jerram. From 1 to 29 Jan 2023, First Breath lit up the night sky with a bright column of pulsing light visible from all over the city, representing the first gasps of breath of babies born that day across the region. We're now connecting with Greater Manchester families throughout the first few years of their child’s life, creating a moment of celebration in their shared milestones and introducing art and culture to everyday life from their first breath.

    First Breath Families


  • Risham Syed: Each Tiny Drop

    Residents were invited to sign with a chorus and collect water specially transported from the Soan River in Pakistan and steward it into the River Medlock.
  • Ryan Gander: The Find

    Residents searched for hundreds of coins hidden across Greater Manchester in a variety of accessible public places.
  • Manchester Collective and Slung Low: Noah's Flood

    180 schoolchildren joined the cast of the community opera Noah's Flood – dressed as every bird and beast under the sun.
  • Balmy Army

    40 young people from Greater Manchester came together to create Balmy Army – a movement for youth-led mental health.



For MIF21, Manchester residents took over the curation of the Festival’s talks and discussions series, building on MIF’s pioneering work with the community as artistic collaborators, such as Festival in My House where Greater Manchester residents programmed their own international micro-festivals. Featuring a range of speakers, including artists, activists, key workers, campaigners and members of the Greater Manchester community, Looking Forward to Tomorrow explored some of the big issues of the day including the climate emergency and anti-Black racism.

Looking Forward To Tomorrow Gallery image 7
  • Portrait of Black Britain

    50 residents from Greater Manchester were peer-nominated to take part in this major public exhibition at Manchester Arndale created by Cephas Williams.
  • Sea Change

    The opening night of MIF21 saw 140 Greater Manchester residents join French choreographer Boris Charmatz and his dancers for a daring new work on Deansgate.
  • I Love You Too

    South African artist Kemang Wa Lehulere invited more than 100 people from across Manchester to share their love stories, now published in an inspiring book.


A photograph of a room at Manchester Art Gallery which has been converted into a temporary classroom, with bright green walls on the left and right of the frame. A class of adults are listening intently as the tutor, with her back to us, leads a cookery class.


Artist Tania Bruguera and over 100 people who have made Manchester their home from another country took over Manchester Art Gallery to deliver unique classes as the School of Integration.

During MIF19, the school offered over 80 classes on a wide-ranging curriculum that includes food, customs, ethics, politics and many other forms of knowledge – classes given by local people originally from countries around the world, from Zimbabwe to Tibet.

These were not only instructional lessons, but something more personal and vivid. Each teacher passed on their own experiences, sharing skills, knowledge and culture in a different kind of communal integration and learning experience in the heart of Manchester.


    Our MIF19 opening event included a people’s orchestra of handcrafted ceramic bells which were designed and created by hundreds of Greater Manchester residents.
  • The Anvil

    A day of performances inspired by the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre was created by immersive theatre group ANU with people from Greater Manchester.
  • Utopolis

    Utopolis Manchester began at a host of venues throughout the city centre – from cafés and shops to hair salons and dance studios.
  • Tuesday

    Tuesday starred a 30-strong chorus of Salford residents and amateur singers in this beautiful site-specific theatre for children and adults.
  • Animals of Manchester

    Animals of Manchester took over our closing weekend and featured activities co-hosted by a team of Young Ambassadors from Greater Manchester primary schools.
  • Parliament of Ghosts

    Parliament of Ghosts included a team of 30 ‘Everyday Experts’ working alongside artist Ibrahim Mahama, curators and conservation teams at the Whitworth.
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