Posted Jul 13 2023 | By Gillian Harrison

MIF 2023: What Makes a Great City? - The Sequel

Last week we hosted ‘What Makes a Great City? The Sequel’ as part of both this year’s Manchester International Festival (MIF) and our ongoing 10th Birthday celebrations. The original ‘What Makes a Great City’ was held in 2019, with a great panel of Tom Bloxham (founder of Urban Splash and Chair of MIF), Eamonn Boylan (Chief Exec of Greater Manchester Combined Authority), Christine Cort (co-founder of MIF) and our own Jo McCafferty, with host Kasper de Graaf. The focus was very much on what had made Manchester great up to that point, including MIF and other cultural and sporting events, the resurgence of city centre living, pioneering scientific discoveries and innovation, rooted in the industrial heritage of the city, and focussing on the qualities of all great cities.

This time around, we decided it was time to look to the future. The Manchester team have been involved in various initiatives to try and broaden the perspectives that you hear at industry events, including our own Diverse Voices mentoring session last year, which we jointly organised with Land Use Consulting.

‘The Sequel’ therefore asked the same question, in the same basic format, with Kasper returning as our wonderful host. But this time we searched out some of Manchester’s up-and-coming professionals who will be the city-shapers of the future. And they were fantastic! Conversation ranged from how we create welcoming public spaces and parks that encourage people to dwell, to developing language and methods around consultation, transport and other infrastructure that communities can really engage with. De-mystifying what we do is a key part of broadening the discussion and engaging with more diverse perspectives. Affordability was also a key issue facing young people, and it was clear that the desire to own a home in the city you grew up in is still high on the agenda (despite what you might hear elsewhere about young people’s enthusiasm for renting!). It was also great to hear recognition that Manchester remains both a determined and welcoming city – whether this be ground-breaking inventions such as graphene, ambitious targets for sustainability that would better national goals, or feeling you get from the people you meet.

Thank you to everyone who took part:

  • The brilliant panel: Emma Cullen, Carmen Fyfe, Katie McManus, Dawid Nowak, Abiola Ogunsami, Kelly-Marie Rodgers, Sigi Whittle and Gina Windley
  • Our fantastic host, Kasper de Graaf
  • Our generous sponsor, Trowers and Hamlins
  • Our wonderful venue hosts, Manchester International Festival
  • And all the team at Levitt Bernstein who helped put the event together