Opening Plans Announced for ‘Factory International’ Manchester’s Newest Cultural Space

Programmed and operated by the team behind Manchester International Festival, the opening show will feature hundreds of local residents.

By Emma Davidson | October 4th '22

Set to welcome its first visitors in June 2023, Factory International will be a global destination for arts, music and culture, commissioning and presenting a curated year round programme by leading artists from across the world. 

The official opening production ‘Free Your Mind’ is a large-scale immersive performance based on The Matrix movie series presented across the building’s flexible spaces. 

The dramatic retelling will bring together the visceral movement of choreographer Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy MBE with a powerful score from renowned composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante MBE (co-founders and artistic directors of the Olivier award-winning Boy Blue), world-leading designer Es Devlin’s large-scale stage sculptures and the work of the acclaimed writer Sabrina Mahfouz – directed by Danny Boyle

Using spectacular visual effects, a cast of professional dancers and hundreds of Manchester participants will recreate some of the film’s most iconic scenes, provoking visions of an alternative future. 

Before its official opening, the venue will form part of 2023’s Manchester International Festival, which returns to the city from 29th June to 16th July next year, with a huge exhibition in its main warehouse space from Yayoi Kusama.

Following Free Your Mind, a wide range of music, circus, art and fashion will fill the building and its outdoor spaces during The Welcome, a nine-day programme developed by Greater Manchester residents.

Reflecting Factory International’s commitment to ensuring access to the widest possible audiences, 5,000 tickets will be available for Free Your Mind at £10 or less as part of an affordable pricing strategy that will see discounted tickets for Manchester communities across its year-round programme. 

The development of Factory International is being led by Manchester City Council, with backing from HM Government and Arts Council England. A major capital gift of £2m has been secured from The Law Family Charitable Foundation and will be recognised through the naming of the hall. In addition, the Foundation has pledged £888k to support the Factory Academy.

Factory International is located in the new St John’s neighbourhood which is being developed on the site of the former Granada Studios next to the River Irwell and will make a major contribution to the ongoing regeneration of this part of the city centre. 

Councillor Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This remarkable new space, rooted in Manchester, will be a significant addition to the national and international arts landscape and a major visitor destination. Factory International will further strengthen the city’s role as a centre for culture, creativity and innovation. 

“It is already creating jobs and apprenticeships for people who live here and will be an important training centre for an array of creative careers. As well as changing lives directly, Factory International will provide a huge economic boost to Manchester, creating or supporting up to 1,500 jobs and adding £1.1 billion to the city’s economy over a decade. This is, in more ways than one, a landmark moment.”