Factory Manchester Gets the GO Ahead!

The plans for Factory, the flagship cultural venue for the North were granted planning approval by Manchester City Council today.

By Lee Isherwood | 13 January 2017

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The plans for Factory, the flagship cultural venue for the North designed by world-leading architects Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), founded by Rem Koolhaas, were granted planning approval by Manchester City Council today.

The project is OMA’s first major public building in the UK and is led by project partners Ellen van Loon and Rem Koolhaas. Construction is due to begin in Spring 2017.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: “As the nation’s developer of our arts and culture we want to invest in bold schemes that will excite audiences and burnish our international reputation. Factory has just such potential – it promises to be a powerful catalyst, bringing artists together to work in new ways in an intriguing new space. It promises a programme that will attract future generations of audiences to new types of performance. We are proud to support The Factory, and our partners in Manchester, as they continue their journey to become a standout cultural venue.”

Factory will be a groundbreaking new venue driven by the extraordinary creative vision and breadth of Manchester’s cultural life. It will form part of the vibrant new St. John’s neighbourhood, which is being developed by Allied London, in partnership with Manchester City Council, on the site of the former Granada TV Studios.

This week HM Treasury approved the full business case for the £78m government capital investment.

It was also confirmed that Manchester International Festival (MIF) will run Factory as well as continuing to deliver the festival every two years. Mark Ball, currently Artistic Director of LIFT, will join MIF’s senior leadership team as Associate Artistic Director, focusing on creation and delivery of the Factory programme. He will start full time at MIF in June, working closely with Artistic Director/CEO John McGrath to create a unified artistic vision for the venue and the festival.

The new venue will offer audiences the opportunity to enjoy year round, in a new world-class facility, the broadest range of art forms and cultural experiences – including dance, theatre, music, opera, visual arts, spoken word, popular culture and innovative contemporary work incorporating multiple media and technologies. Artists from across the world will be invited to create new work in the building’s extraordinary spaces.

Tom Bloxham, Chairman, Manchester International Festival (MIF) said: “This is a great show of confidence in the cultural future of the North. In just five festivals Manchester International Festival has established itself as one of the major international arts festivals, and we are delighted to now be able to add to the city’s and the country’s cultural offer all year round through our programming at Factory.”

Factory will accelerate economic growth in the region. Its economic impact, as part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative, will be considerable creating or supporting almost 1,500 full-time jobs and adding £1.1 billion to the city’s economy over a decade. It will make a direct contribution to the growth of creative industries in the North, and reduce the dependency on London as the provider of creative industries training and employment. It will develop partnerships with the city’s leading higher education institutions and will further support the city’s drive for high calibre graduate talent retention through job creation.

OMA lead a multi-disciplinary design team including Buro Happold Structures and MEP, Arup Acoustics, Gardiner and Theobald as cost consultants and Deloitte Real Estate as planning consultants.

Mark Ball said: “Factory is undoubtedly the most exciting and ambitious new cultural space in the country, committed to pioneering arts projects and programmes in an incredible new building right in the heart of Manchester. Over the next few years I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside John and the team at MIF and with some of Manchester’s and the world’s most brilliant artists and organisations to help make unforgettable, joyful and exceptional art.”