Manchester to host international convention for performing arts professionals this summer

  • Friday 24 March 2023

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Manchester is to play host to a prestigious international convention for the performing arts this summer, which will see hundreds of professionals working globally in the sector descend on the city for the three-day conference in June.

The International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) conference takes place from 27 to 30 June, with Manchester hosting the annual conference on behalf of the UK in what is shaping up to be a culturally significant year for the city.

Global arts professionals come together twice each year through ISPA to share ideas and collaborate on best practice with an annual conference held each January in New York, followed by a mid-year conference which is held in a different world city each year.  

Host cities are chosen through a competitive bidding process during which they have to demonstrate their commitment to culture and the performing arts, and show what their city has to offer delegates. Last year's mid-year ISPA conference was held in Hong Kong, and next year's is taking place in Perth, Australia.  

This year's event in Manchester will be the first in-person mid-year ISPA conference to take place since the pandemic and more than 500 diverse arts leaders from over 50 countries are expected to attend, representing different genres and disciplines from within the performing arts field, including theatre, music, and dance.  

Delegates will include arts managers, promoters, presenters, festivals, producing companies, consultants, and government cultural leaders.

Conference delegates will arrive in the city just days before the start of this year's Manchester International Festival - which sixteen years on from the very first festival in 2007 now has a worldwide reputation for the innovation and quality of its biennial programme of cultural firsts that regularly go on to tour the world.  

Their visit also comes as the city gears up for the much-anticipated opening of Factory International this autumn which is set to wow visitors from the off, with its first event You, Me and the Balloons opening on 30 June as part of Manchester International Festival that will see one of the world's most loved artists, Yayoi Kusama, bring her largest-ever immersive environment to Manchester with her gigantic psychedelic inflatable artworks, shown together for the first time.

Partners including the city council, HOME, Factory International, and the Bridgewater Hall, are working together to deliver the June conference.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: "Here in Manchester we're in no doubt about the importance of culture and the arts, and the added value they bring both to people and places.

"The role of performing arts professionals in this is vital and as a world class city region we fully recognise the importance of building new relationships and opening up new opportunities - with collaboration often key to creativity.

"Three years on from the start of a global pandemic that turned lights out in arts venues across the planet and brought life as we knew it to a full stop, there's clearly a lot to talk about and a lot that professionals working in the sector in different parts of the world can learn from each other."

Over the years ISPA has served as a fantastic opportunity and meeting place for industry professionals - providing a place to learn about performing arts in different regions of the world and to keep up to date on issues, challenges, and solutions from others working in the sector around the world.

As part of each mid-year congress, the host region also delivers the Anthony Field Academy, an intensive arts administration programme which is dedicated to developing the next generation of talent.  In Manchester this will see a one-and-a-half-day programme of activity and discussion tailored specifically to new and emerging arts professionals, who are looking to gain experience in arts leadership.

Dave Moutrey, Director of Culture for Manchester City Council, and Director of HOME said: "We're delighted to be welcoming the ISPA mid-year congress to Manchester in June 2023. At a critical time for the sector, bringing together performing arts professionals from across the globe to collaborate and exchange ideas feels more important than ever, and we're proud to be providing a space for this to happen.  It has been a pleasure working with the British Council and Arts Council England, whose support was integral to our successful bid, and we look forward to working with colleagues from across the sector and other partners to showcase the wealth of talent, innovation and culture that Manchester, and the UK, has to offer."

ISPA 23 in Manchester is also being supported by Arts Council England, Visit Britain, and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

Find out more about the conference and how to register as a delegate here

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