24:7 Theatre Festival
This year's 24:7 didn't have a single play that clearly stood above the rest, like the last two years. However overall there was a similar mix of plays that worked well and some that clearly needed a lot more work.
The top play for me was Rebekah Harrison's In My Bed; despite the performance I saw being interrupted by a fire alarm, the actors kept it together for a very interesting and well put-together script and production.
Luke Walker's The Tongue Twister for young theatregoers largely worked very well indeed, apart from some long explanations near to the end that could do with a trim. This piece will be revived for Re:Play Festival in January 2015.
Mick Cooper's Stuff also had a lot to recommend it, but the writer's tendency to go for the crude gag whether or not it was appropriate for the plot or characters irritated me at times.
The kick in the teeth on the festival's 10th birthday year was its loss of core funding from the Arts Council. The festival will therefore run in a new format on alternate years to MIF starting in July 2016, with a Big Weekend in July 2015 as a taster for the future.
Manchester International Festival
There was no MIF in 2014, but three shows for the 2015 festival were announced in November, with names as diverse as Wayne McGregor, Professor Brian Cox and Justin Fletcher mentioned as performers and creators.
Musician Damon Albarn, who has been involved in two previous MIFs, let slip on BBC's Front Row back in May that he was working on a new project for MIF, "a very interesting opera-based thing based on a very famous children's book," but no announcement has been made about this project or whether it will feature in the 2015 festival.
Bigger than the announcements of individual items in the programme is the news about artistic director Alex Poots's departure after 2015's festival for New York's Culture Shed, as well as the building of Factory Manchester as a permanent home for MIF.