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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