Over one hundred people joined the ArtReach team in Manchester to celebrate the launch of the third annual Journeys Festival International Manchester which runs from 4 – 14 October. Guests joined the ArtReach team at The Whitworth on a calm autumnal evening and were treated to a myriad of cultural activities to usher in the full Festival period.
A script in hand performance of James Brabazon’s, ‘People of Nowhere’, originally performed as part of World Refugee Year 1959-1960, was the official precursor to the launch. Guests and members of the public were offered drinks to accompany speeches by David Hill, Founding Director and Chair of ArtReach alongside Professor Peter Gatrell from University of Manchester and Mustafa Alachkar from Rethink Rebuild. Peter spoke at length about the importance of the ‘Reckoning with Refugeedom’ project that feeds into all three of the Journeys Festival International programmes in 2018. Mustafa shared the organisation’s Celebrating Syria events that complement JFI.

Audience members were then asked to join the team at Matilda Glen’s remarkable installation, ‘Crossing Borders’ that is displayed outside The Whitworth for the duration of the Festival, and for a performance by Take Back Theatre. Glen’s installation explores the hardships endured by displaced people and uses the power of art to challenge media reporting of the current migration climate. Surely, no more suitable setting could be found for the powerful performance by Take Back Theatre, as dusk descended on the gallery and gardens the audience was hushed by their dramatic portrayal of the reality behind news headlines.

The evening was rounded off with an intriguing poetic performance by Firoozeh Fozouni, who performed ‘Dear Poet, Come to My Rescue…’, a response to the Ancient Objects New Writing Project in both her native tongue and English. Ancient Objects New writing is a project threading throughout the JFI Manchester Festival and as this was Fozouni’s first full public performance of the poem in her second language it seemed a fitting closing performance to a wonderful evening.

Just as the night drew to a close audiences went on their way, programmes in hand, with a lot to look forward to as Journeys Festival International Manchester delivers across the city until 14 October.

To see the full programme head to https://www.journeysfestival.com/manchesterjfi