£78 million arts centre The Factory to make Manchester "cultural counterweight" to London

By Culture24 Reporter | 03 December 2014

The Factory Manchester could open in 2019, George Osborne and Arts Council declare support

A photo of the outside of a large theatre
London's 2,500-seat Coliseum will have its capacity matched by The Factory Manchester© Mike Peel, www.mikepeel.net
An “ultra-flexible” arts space will make Manchester a “genuine counterbalance” to London and rival the capital’s Coliseum, say leaders who have announced £78 million in funding for the potential new home of the city’s International Festival from 2019.

Named in honour of the famous Manchester record company, The Factory Manchester will sit at the centre of a creative village, with a theatre capable of accommodating 5,000 visitors in an artist-led city centre space on the site of the former Granada Studios headquarters.

Planners believe the development could create the equivalent of 2,300 full-time jobs, adding £134 million to the economy.

“Manchester, at the heart of a wider region, has unique potential to become the cultural counterweight to London that the UK needs for successful economic and creative growth,” said Maria Balshaw, the Director of Manchester City Galleries.

“Today’s announcement is a tremendous leap towards realising that vision.”

Manchester City Council says it will work with local and national partners on the next phase of a strategy to complement “cultural gems” including the Whitworth Art Gallery, HOME – a £25 million new arts centre opening next spring – the Lowry and Bridgewater Hall.

“The Factory Manchester will be a new kind of large-scale venue, comparable in scale to London's Coliseum, connected to one side of a Tate Modern Turbine Hall-type structure,” said Tom Bloxham, the Chair of the biennial Manchester International Festival.

“As well as providing a new home base for the festival, it will commission and welcome innovative works from companies and artists around the world.

“Like the festival, it will attract ground-breaking and pioneering works which might not otherwise come to the north of England, or even the UK.”

Arts Council England and the Chancellor, George Osborne, offered strong backing to the plans. More details are expected to be announced in early 2015.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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