Lever Prize Awarded to Manchester International Festival

The Manchester International Festival certainly sounds exciting but seems a bit odd to award a top prize to an event 6 months before its even started.

North West’s top companies award arts prize to inaugural festival

The North West’s leading businesses have awarded the 2007 Lever Prize, an annual award for world-class cultural organisations in the region, to Manchester International Festival.

The £10,000 cash award, given by the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) and supplemented by a similar level of support from Arts & Business North West (A&B NW), aims to bring business and culture closer together, and to revive the philanthropic traditions practised by successful industrialists of the past. The Lever Prize winner is selected by the NWBLT, made up of the leaders of 27 of the region’s largest businesses, in partnership with Culture Northwest and A&B NW.

The Lever Prize was inspired by William H. Lever (later Lord Leverhulme), the Bolton-born soap magnate famed for his grand-scale patronage of cultural organisations, as seen in the Lever Free Library and Museum and the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight, Wirral.

Manchester International Festival (MIF) – the world’s first international festival of original, new work – will take place between 28th June and 15th July 2007 and thereafter every two years. The idea to launch an international festival was first conceived by Manchester City Council who subsequently appointed Alex Poots as Festival Director.
The judges were impressed by the breadth and scope of the Festival, with a programme created by leading artists from across the spectrum of popular culture, innovation and the arts. They were also attracted by the Festival’s unique approach in delivering a programme of newly commissioned work, which reflects the NWBLT’s commitment to innovation and world-class research and development.

The Festival has already staged two successful pre-festival commissions, the first of which saw the musicians behind Gorillaz – the world’s first virtual band – play their multi-million selling album Demon Days live over five nights at the Manchester Royal Opera House in November 2005. Other commissions announced at this stage include Monkey: Journey to the West, a groundbreaking circus opera with musical score by Damon Albarn and visual concept, costume and set design from Jamie Hewlett, the artists behind Gorillaz, and Il Tempo del Postino, a major time-based group show featuring some of the world’s leading artists. The Festival will also premiere a new version of The Pianist, based upon the memoirs of Wladyslaw Szpilman, which will bring together internationally acclaimed concert pianist Mikhail Rudy and leading theatre director Neil Bartlett.

Dates: 28th June – 15th July 2007 Location: Venues across Manchester
Festival Information: www.manchesterinternationalfestival.com
Festival Director : Alex Poots