This talk is presented by
John E McGrath is Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Factory International. Appointed in 2015 to lead Manchester International Festival (MIF), and the development of its new building, he has since curated four festivals, as well as leading the vision and strategy for Aviva Studios. Under John, MIF has built on its reputation for commissioning extraordinary work from the world’s great artists, while also forming ever-deeper relationships with Manchester’s many communities, initiating an innovative programme digital commissions, and taking work from the festival around the globe . Artists commissioned by John for MIF include New Order and Liam Gillick, Yoko Ono, David Lynch, Philip Glass and Phelim McDermott, Laurie Anderson, Maxine Peake and Sarah Frankcom, Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Ibrahim Mahama, Tania Bruguera and Marta Minujín. During the 2023, Aviva Studios staged a massive new exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s inflatable sculptures, before officially opening in October with Free Your Mind by Mikey J Asante, Danny Boyle, Ex Devlin, Sabrina Mahfouz and Kenrick Sandy, to exeptional reviews and sold out audiences.
Prior to MIF, John was the founding Artistic Director of National Theatre Wales, commissioning landmark site specific work such as Michael Sheen’s The Passion of Port Talbot and Mike Pearson’s The Persians. Shows directed for National Theatre Wales include the award-winning The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning. Previous roles include Artistic Director of Contact, where John led the re-opening of the venue, and its re-focus on young people as decision-makers, and Associate Director at legendary New York experimental company Mabou Mines. Awards include NESTA Cultural Leadership Fellowship, and Honorary Doctorate from the Open University. Publications include ‘Loving Big Brother: Performance, Privacy and Surveillance Space’ (Routledge 2004).