A spectacular celebration of music, theatre, comedy and the arts is planned for Milton Keynes this summer, and local businesses are being invited to help make this year’s International Festival one of the most successful and inclusive ever.
Produced by The Stables, IF: Milton Keynes International Festival 2023 takes place between July 21 and 30 and promises some stunning performances, including a rare chance to see the spectacular Place des Anges from French aerial theatre company Gratte Ciel; the world premiere of a work by poet Rommi Smith and composer Roderick Williams to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the hymn Amazing Grace; and the UK premiere of an award- winning immersive journey through a secret woodland location from Catalonia-based artist collective Kamchàtka.
In addition, throughout the festival, there will be a number of large-scale events and installations to enjoy including a huge installation of over 200,000 dried flowers in Middleton Hall – The Place Between by Rebecca Louise Law with soundscapes by Jason Singh. Commissioned by the festival’s Headline Partner, centre:mk, the installation aims to include contributions of 20,000 flowers and foraged plant material from diverse community groups across Milton Keynes.
Festival Central in Campbell Park will be home to The Stables Spiegeltent which will present a programme of live music, comedy and cabaret as well as free family activities, many of them low cost or free of charge.
The Stables, a registered charity, is calling on local businesses and individual donors to support its new philanthropic City of Angels Fund. The fund aims to remove barriers for audiences and widen access to the festival so that more people and communities than ever before can be a part of what promises to be a summer of unforgettable live cultural experiences.
“We have a strong track record of involving and welcoming people and communities from right across Milton Keynes and with the launch of our City of Angels initiative, we plan to build on that platform to ensure that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, can have access to our events and activities and enjoy the festival in spite of the cost-of-living crisis.”
Working with Milton Keynes City Council, Milton Keynes Community Foundation, local community leaders and neighbourhood managers, the festival will use the fund to reach out to groups who traditionally have restricted access to live arts and culture, with a particular focus on low-income households, ethnically diverse communities and disabled and learning-disabled people in the city.
There are other ways businesses can partner with the festival, through hospitality packages for staff or clients, volunteering, team building and away days.
Dame Ann Limb DBE DL, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire and Festival Chair said
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to support our visitor economy, bring communities together and offer enriching entertainment for young people, families and the general public, both local and visitors. We’d love local businesses to embrace the opportunities the festival provides in terms of supporting a wonderful, diverse and exciting event and promote themselves to a wide and diverse audience.”
The full programme of events will be announced at the end of May with audiences of over 65,000 expected during an amazing 10 days. Highlights already confirmed include:
- July 28 and 29: Place des Anges, the biggest show ever brought to the Festival, and being performed for only the third time in the UK. This aerial spectacle, written and directed by Pierrot Bidon and Stéphane Girard and produced and performed by leading French aerial theatre company Gratte Ciel, features a multitude of winged white angels – acrobats, climbers, dancers and circus artists – animated in the night sky above central Milton Keynes.
- July 22: Forever? A new commission for voice and chamber ensemble created from interviews with people, locally and internationally, about their personal response to the hymn Amazing Grace, which was written 250 years ago by the Rev John Newton, a former slave trader who became vicar at Olney. Forever? will be performed at The Stables by Chineke! Chamber Ensemble and the MK Sweet Sound Choir.
- The world premiere of a new large-scale installation in centre:mk’s Middleton Hall by artist Rebecca Louise Law and sound artist Jason Singh.
- The Stables Spiegeltent in Campbell Park, which will be the beat- ing heart of the festival, and the setting for a whole host of live music, comedy, cabaret and contemporary circus performances.
“The ideas of belonging, identity and journeys of many kinds underpin this year’s Festival, showing how shared history can both bring us together and point to a different future.”
Find out more about IF: Milton Keynes International Festival at www.ifmiltonkeynes.org