The man who made Manchester cool again

Alex Poots: “There’s no such thing as too much culture – as long as it’s good culture”

Every two years, Manchester becomes the coolest place on the world’s cultural circuit as the Manchester International Festival (MIF) stages a string of art, theatre and music premieres. Artistic director Alex Poots has masterminded its first decade – but is now stepping down to run New York’s new Culture Shed.

Alex Poots makes top artists and performers a simple offer.

He asks what their dream project is. And then he makes it happen.

That, in a nutshell, is how he has persuaded figures including actor Sir Kenneth Branagh, musician Bjork, performance artist Marina Abramovic, Blur’s Damon Albarn and artist-turned-film-maker Steve McQueen to unveil new work in Manchester over the past decade.

And the festival has played a large part in transforming the city’s reputation on the global cultural circuit.

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