So the Manchester International Festival has arrived, or at least it will do at the end of June. For now we are all to be heartily excited by the Guardian's MIF Guide which, unlike any of the other press given to the event so far, actually makes sense of this somewhat sprawling month-o-culture.
I've always been slightly concerned by the extremely wide remit of the festival. While I wholeheartedly approve of the idea of a festival "of original new work" I have been more than a little curious about how such a concept can be executed. In reality the festival consists of a small number of new works commissioned for the event and a lot of talks and one-off gigs by acts not currently touring; all of them interesting (if you like that sort of thing - The Orchestral Suite by William Orbit, anyone?) , most of them suitably "new".
My grumble comes when you consider and compare what is happening in Manchester when compared with the cities it's aspiring to stand alongside.
Flicking through the festival Guide and all the other press around it you'll find that Berlin, New York, Paris, Madrid and Sydney all crop up (and London, occasionally, begrudgingly gets a mention) as the cities Manchester should be rivalling in the great cultural arena.
The problem being - the big great white elephant in all these lofty ambitions - London and New York and Berlin and all the other great cultural destinations will also host new commissions this summer and rare appearances from world class artists. The difference being they don't have to have an International Festival to bring them there.
Anyway, enough criticism - it turns out my company is sponsoring the festival as an Official Supplier, no less (becuase what the culturatti flocking from around the globe to see the dazzling lights of Manchester will surely need a corporate finance guide to help them make sense of it all) so I will post any freebies here...