John E. McGrath is the Artistic Director and CEO of Manchester International Festival (MIF), appointed to the role in 2015.
John’s inaugural Festival in 2017 featured new work from leading international artists such as Boris Charmatz, Thomas Ostermeier and Yael Bartana; a new digital direction for the Festival including MIF’s first online game, and a series of participatory commissions in public space beginning with the Festival’s opening event, What Is the City but the People?
World premieres included New Order collaborating with artist Liam Gillick and an orchestra of synthesizer players; Underworld’s Manchester Street Poem; film-maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s first installation HOME1947 and artist Susan Hefuna’s work with recent migrants to the city for a performance in collaboration with Studio Wayne McGregor.
John also initiated My Festival, a new year-round programme of activity with Manchester communities, including a series of micro-festivals run by Manchester residents; a range of opportunities for the city’s emerging artists, and a creative network for Manchester residents. As CEO of MIF John is also responsible for The Factory, a flagship cultural space for the creation of ambitious new work, opening in 2020.
John was previously Artistic Director of National Theatre Wales which he launched in 2009, achieving an international reputation for large-scale site-specific work, digital innovation, international collaboration, and extraordinary community involvement. John has worked as a theatre director in New York and London and was Artistic Director of Contact Theatre in Manchester from 1999 to 2008. Awards include the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA) Cultural Leadership Award (2005) and an Honorary Doctorate from the Open University (2015).