Today we’re announcing the ‘Festival of Leaving’ – a two-week arts festival in November about leaving, loss and legacy. The festival comes a few months before we temporarily leave our historic synagogue and move into Central Library to allow for the construction of our new museum. To mark this occasion we will host a diverse programme of installations and live performances about ‘leaving’.
Festival highlights include acclaimed street performer Nick Cassenbaum who will transform the synagogue into an East London schvitz (Jewish steambath), a haunting and poignant performance from folk singer Ana Silvera, whose great grandparents married in MJM’s synagogue and, straight from a 5-star review at the Edinburgh Festival, bloominauschwitz, a one-man show which imagines Leopold Bloom breaking free of James Joyce’s great novel ‘Ulysses’ to re-discover his Jewish roots.
The festival will be for all ages with other events including shadow puppetry, poetry, printmaking, storytelling and interactive art installations.
Kicking off on bonfire night with a Mexican inspired ‘ofrenda’ and a caravan of treasures, stories will be shared around MJM’s very own bonfire. Two weeks later, Hope Mill Theatre will conclude the festival with their version of The Great Jewish American Song Book, including songs from ‘Rags’, the sequel to ‘Fiddler on the Roof’.
This ambitious festival is being supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Arts Council England (ACE). It is also part of MJM’s current development project funded by HLF. Feedback will be captured from each event to help the museum further develop its ongoing cultural programme and exciting longer-term plans to fully restore the synagogue complete with a museum extension housing new galleries, learning and event spaces.
Building work will start on the new museum early next year. During the closure period, there will be a ‘pop-up’ Jewish Museum in Manchester Central Library, hosting a wide range of activities. The new museum is planned to open in 2020.
Museum CEO, Max Dunbar said “Thanks to the support of HLF and ACE this Festival enables us to play, experiment and test out a whole new way of working at MJM. We’re all extremely excited to stage such a diverse and vibrant festival and hope to welcome many new faces to our beautiful building ahead of our move to Central Library next year.”