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The Not Part Of Festival

Lynda Moyo looks at what part the 'Not Part Of' plays in the MIF month...

Written by . Published on July 10th 2009.


The Not Part Of Festival

It used to be a bit of a mouthful: The Not Part Of the Manchester International Festival...erm...Festival. Now in its third year, in fewer words thankfully and with plenty of new events, The Not Part Of Festival is more than happy to continue playing the fringe.

“We are official. We don't really require a nod from MIF to be so.”

So, what's the difference between the Manchester International Festival (MIF) and The Not Part Of (NPO)? NPO is on a smaller scale, is not for profit, and invites anyone with creative input into Manchester to take part. It likes to think of itself as an alternative to the mainstream and grandeur of MIF. Once again this year, it's being held in association with charity Forever Manchester with sponsorship coming from Salford University.

Whilst MIF is exclusive, in its own words, NPO is inclusive: 'It's Manchester's most inclusive edgy arts festival. We are dedicated to making it as easy as possible for artists of all disciplines to get their work on and seen when the Manchester International Festival brings the world's cultural spotlight to our city,' says the website.

Although it works alongside, not against, MIF, NPO has its own agenda: it tries to cover everything and anything that MIF doesn't. It makes the most of MIF's influx of visitors and attendees in the city, with its 'if it's in, it's on' attitude.

This year, the line-up features an exciting blend of work from creators based in Manchester and those from further afield who want to show their work here. We spoke to Lisa Margis, one of the organisers at NPO:

“NPO 2009 has already proved a massive success; from the huge amount of events included and the media attention received, to the audiences that events are attracting and the huge buzz of festival fever that those involved are experiencing. To quote director Gareth McCann: 'We are official. We don't really require a nod from MIF to be so'.”

Gigs, plays, poetry, comedy, food and exhibitions are just a snippet of what NPO has to offer. Often with summer festivals, if you've seen one, you've seen them all, but Lisa assures us that NPO seeks to find original acts and anything repeated is purely coincidental.

“Some of them may go on to be included in other festivals (or indeed have already appeared at other festivals) but the majority are created solely for Not Part Of.”

The list of over 100 contributors includes: Ladyboys of Bangkok, Mad about Manchester artists, Manchester Craft and Design Centre workshops, Flash Mob Shakespeare, The Miraculous Emporium of Amazing Altered Books, Edinburgh Double Bill, Barrel of Laughs, Your Mama's Cooking, John Joss Unleashed, Wife of Brian, Arty Farty Film Party, Kinofilm, The Manchester Art Crawl, Chorlton Folk Club, Cirque de City and many more.

Although they strive to stage original performances, don't expect NPO to start commissioning their own events any time soon.

Lisa said: “Not Part Of will never commission events. MIF is all about commissioning, creating, curating and if NPO tried to do the same it would not be the unique platform that it is, and the reason that it is so popular.”

If you're already immersed in MIF and want even more cultural events in the city this month, NPO is well worth a peek.

NPO runs from 2 July until 18 July. Visit www.notpartof.org for the full line-up and more information.

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SuzanneJuly 10th 2009.

Both festival and fringe are great and I hope they both go from strength to strength. However Not Part of needs to do more PR work as many people not heard of the fringe element. Dont see how a festival with ticket prices starting at free or £3 can be accused of being exclusive though.

Not Part OfJuly 10th 2009.

Suzanne, Glad you're enjoying Not Part Of. We've had a huge impact (considering we dont have a PR budget running into the millions) this year and certainly will build on it to go from strength to strength. As for exclusive, i understand that prices for MIF start at free but it's where they end up that makes them at the exclusive end. Whereas Not Part Of events start at free and top out at £14. Exclusive also is about artists being excluded. If you're not picked for MIF you can't be in it. Which is fine and what makes that festival unique but there ought an inclusive alternative.That said, both Not Part Of and MIF have been much more successful than 2 years ago. Which whets my appetite for 2 years time.Roll on 2011!

shinealightJuly 10th 2009.

Let's hope that as the MIF continues to develop, so does the NPO. Don't forget the 'official' Edinburgh Festival is dwarfed by its fringe.

Lisa MargisJuly 10th 2009.

Hi - just wanted to point out that I am NOT an organiser so serious oversight here guys. I love you and all, but come on. I am simply helping out Beth and Gareth with their PR. Free of charge I should add, because unlike MIF, Not Part Of does not have trillions of pounds to throw into its publicity machine. And not to blow my own trumpet or owt Suzanne, but I think I've done an alright job considering.

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