The latest report has highlighted the incredible success of Aviva Studios, a new cultural hub in the heart of the city. From its debut season, which kicked off with the mesmerizing production of “Free Your Mind” directed by Danny Boyle, to its collaboration with world-class creatives such as Es Devlin and Boy Blue co-founders Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy and Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, Aviva Studios has been a roaring triumph. The venue attracted over 50 dancers from across the UK, showcasing the immense talent in the North West.
Last summer, the city was abuzz with the ninth edition of the biennial festival, featuring renowned artists like Maxine Peake and Ryuichi Sakamoto. The festival also made its mark by hosting events at Aviva Studios, drawing in a staggering 230,000 visitors who eagerly previewed the building before its official opening. One of the standout exhibitions was a captivating display of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s inflatable sculptures, taking over the vast warehouse space of Aviva Studios. Audiences were transported on a psychedelic journey through Kusama’s mind-bending creations, a visual feast rarely seen in the UK.
Music lovers were treated to a diverse range of performances at Aviva Studios, including the likes of Angélique Kidjo, Alison Goldfrapp, and Sanam Marvi. Festival Square, now situated in the outdoor spaces of Aviva Studios, emerged as a vibrant riverside destination, attracting a staggering 83,000 visitors. With over 190 live music performances and a wide selection of food and drink, Festival Square truly became the place to be.
The festival also made a conscious effort to provide free events, with 174,700 attendees enjoying various activities across the city. From a quest for collectible coin artworks to a celebration of our connection to water, there was something for everyone. MIF23 continued its digital presence, offering livestreams and behind-the-scenes broadcasts, ensuring that even those unable to attend in person could still be part of the experience.
The festival’s commitment to the local community was evident, with Greater Manchester residents taking center stage. Over 428 volunteers contributed their time, with 96% rating their experience as excellent or good. Aviva Studios also provided paid opportunities for local musicians and performers, allowing them to showcase their talents on a global platform. The festival actively engaged with schools, with over 1,160 children participating in creative activities, including a fashion project inspired by Yayoi Kusama.
The report also highlighted the festival’s international connections, with the work created in Manchester set to travel across the globe, reaching an audience of over 1.8 million people in more than 30 countries. MIF23 truly solidified Manchester’s position as a cultural powerhouse.
The figures speak for themselves, with an estimated £39.2 million injected into Manchester’s economy through MIF23. A total of 325,300 visitors attended festival events, with almost half of them being first-timers. Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition proved to be a particular draw, attracting 127,000 visitors. The festival’s free events were also a hit, with over 174,700 attendees enjoying the diverse program. Festival Square, with its live music and delectable food offerings, was a magnet for 83,000 visitors.
The report also highlighted the positive impact Aviva Studios has had since its opening, with over 300,000 visitors passing through its doors. The venue’s reputation extends far beyond Manchester, with global attention garnered from its opening season and the acclaimed production of “Free Your Mind.”
Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Deputy Leader Manchester City Council, expressed his pride in MIF23 and its contribution to Manchester’s cultural landscape. The festival’s success, both economically and artistically, is a testament to the power of investing in culture. With the addition of Aviva Studios, Manchester has firmly established itself as a cultural hub that cannot be ignored.