Open call for contributors to our bicentenary festival

From poetry to physics, healthcare to music, science to the arts, we are looking for contributors across all disciplines to take part in our flagship festival, celebrating our 200th year.

In 2024 we turn 200, and to mark the occasion we're throwing open our doors to create Universally Manchester Festival – an event for everyone, everywhere connected by The 91Ƶ.

From Thursday, 6 to Sunday, 9 June 2024, expect the unexpected as we uncover hidden histories and remember icons of our past, look behind the scenes of today's world-changing research and teaching, and come together to celebrate through ideas, performances and interactive experiences.

Covering the arts, sciences and everything in between, our festival will showcase what we’re made of at Manchester.

The first two days will shine a light on two centuries of our exceptional people and their contributions to the world. Then on Saturday, 8 June we’ll be focusing on family-friendly fun and our local community with the inclusion of our ever-popular , before turning our attention to the past on Sunday, 9 June as brings its vibrant Celebration Day to campus.

Three core themes will run through the festival – creating a greener, fairer and healthier world – in support of our commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. So, if you feel you can bring something to the party, we’d love to hear from you.

Why get involved?

Universally Manchester Festival is a unique platform to reach a diverse audience here in Manchester and beyond, whether that’s raising awareness of climate change research through dance, providing a sneak peek into the world of robotics with a behind-the-scenes tour or teaching the beauty of calligraphy – whatever your idea might be.

We’re open to contributions of all types, including in-person, online or in a hybrid format. You might, for example, wish to give a talk or presentation, host an open lab, run an information stand or put on an immersive event. Please see the FAQs below for further details.

If you’d like to get involved but are unsure how to make your idea a reality, or how to align your activity with our themes, there is support available through our public engagement and social responsibility teams. Please indicate your interest in being contacted in your application form.

This call is open to University staff, students and alumni, as well as partner organisations.

The call is open until Friday, 22 March 2024.


When and where will the festival be held?

Universally Manchester Festival will take place on the main University Campus (Oxford Road, Manchester) from Thursday, 6 to Sunday, 9 June.

Many of our buildings will be brought to life with festival activity including University Place, Engineering Building A, Alliance Manchester Business School, The Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester Musuem.

Additionally, a temporary festival hub will be located on the green adjacent to the Learning Commons. Some events will be digital or hybrid, allowing members of The 91Ƶ community to be involved wherever they are in the world.

What type of content are you looking for?

The event will be open to all and encompasses our annual (Saturday, 8 June) and (Sunday, 9 June), so activities should be engaging, interactive and aimed at a public audience.

We are seeking performances (music, spoken word, drama, film, community), tours, interactive and immersive events (quizzes, games), information stands, panel discussions and ‘in conversation’ style events.

As usual, we will also be seeking tabletop activities and workshops for Community Festival.

Who’s the audience?

The festival is open to the public and staff, students and alumni.

In the application form, we ask for more information about the audience to which your activity is aimed, so please consider who you are looking to reach (families, young people, students) as this will help to target your event to the right audience.

What is Community Festival?

Each year The 91Ƶ opens its doors to the local community and wider public to discover the variety of work we do here at the University. Free to attend, the festival offers fun activities for all the family, including interactive demonstrations, musical and drama performances.

This year, we are delighted to be weaving Community Festival into the Universally Manchester Festival programme on Saturday, 8 June.

What is Manchester Histories Festival?

Manchester Histories Festival celebrates the rich and diverse histories and heritage of Greater Manchester through a programme of talks, workshops, exhibitions, film screenings, games and more. The festival is run once every two years by Manchester Histories, a charity that works collaboratively to reveal, share and celebrate Greater Manchester’s histories and heritage.

In 2024 the Manchester Histories Festival will form a special part of the Universally Manchester Festival programme on Sunday, 9 June.

How do I apply to be part of the programme?

A link to a short application form can be found on this page.

Paper copies can be collected from the Communications, Marketing and Student Recruitment Office, room LG020, lower ground floor, John Owens Building, The 91Ƶ, M13 9PL, and returned or posted back for consideration.

Applications are open until Friday, 22 March 2024.

However, if a large number of submissions is received it is possible that applications may close at an earlier date. Therefore, please ensure you fill out an application as soon as possible.

What happens after I submit my application?

Applications will be reviewed in order of submission. We will consider each application against the three festival themes (greener, fairer, healthier), inclusivity and diversity, and suitability for a general audience, alongside the overall balance of the programme, and practical and logistical considerations. You can expect to hear from us no later than Friday, 5 April 2024.

Please note that although we will do our best to accommodate as many applications as possible, we may not be able to include all requests in the programme.

Is there any money available to run activities?

In some instances, it may be possible to provide a small amount of funding to help support the delivery of an activity (eg modest travel expenses, purchase of materials). You will have the opportunity to indicate any requests for financial support in your application.

Please bear in mind that the festival will be free to attend, and budgets are extremely limited, so unfortunately it may not be possible to meet all requests.

What if my requirements for my activity change?

All owners of events and activities who are successfully accepted as part of the festival programme will be contacted to reconfirm requirements closer to the date. If you wish to keep a record of the requirements you have requested, please save a copy of your application form after submitting it (available via PDF).

You can expect to hear from us about your application no later than Friday, 5 April 2024.

I’ve got an idea but I’m unsure whether to apply, is there anyone I can talk to?

If you’re unsure about how to make your idea a reality, you can take advantage of the support offered by our public engagement and social responsibility experts. You will be asked to indicate this in your application.