Manchester is to get new £111m arts centre

The Factory

A major £111m arts centre in Manchester is set to be built after the scheme was approved by planners.

The Factory, which will be built on the site of the former Granada Studios, has been given final approval by Manchester City Council’s planning committee.

The centre, named after the legendary music label, will deliver a huge boost to Manchester, creating and supporting 1,500 full-time jobs and adding £1.1 billion to the city’s economy over a decade.

Factory Records boss Tony Wilson worked for many years at Granada Studios as a reporter and TV presenter.

It will be one of the largest purpose-built cultural spaces in the world giving the world’s best artists the freedom to create work of a scale and ambition not possible elsewhere.

The aim is to create a world-class cultural destination, open to all, and attracting audiences of up to 850,000 a year from across Manchester, the UK and the world.

The flexible space will be capable of hosting everything from epic concerts and major exhibitions to immersive theatre and intimate performances.

Proposals for the scheme were first unveiled in 2014, when the then Chancellor George Osborne granted £80m towards the project.

Dance, theatre, music, opera, visual arts, popular culture and innovative contemporary work, incorporating the latest digital technologies, will come together in ground-breaking contributions involving local, national and international artists and participants.

The landmark building, designed by world-leading architects Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) founded by Rem Koolhaas, will feature two main spaces: a vast warehouse with a capacity of around 5,000 and an auditorium for audiences up to 2,000.

Highly adaptable, it will be possible to combine the two spaces, or reduce them in size, enabling a huge variety of work to be presented.

There will be public spaces inside and outside, including a new square and a riverside setting.

The year-round programme will be designed to appeal to the widest range of people.

The state-of-the-art space will enable the next generation of talent from Manchester and Greater Manchester to develop their expertise by working alongside world-leading creatives.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Culture and creativity have a critical role to play in Manchester’s future success – not just by inspiring ideas and imaginations but through creating opportunities and jobs.

“The Factory will help take this to a whole new level and open up a new chapter in Manchester’s history of innovation.

“Not only will people no longer need to move to London for the best cultural and creative roles, it will give audiences from around the country and even the world another great reason to head here.”

John McGrath, artistic director and chief at Manchester International Festival, said: “The Factory will provide space for the greatest artists from around the world to create work of extraordinary ambition and scale, work they always dreamed of making.

“It builds on the city’s brilliant heritage as a centre for production, for radical ideas and for doing things a bit differently. It firmly underpins Manchester’s reputation as an internationally important city for culture, creativity and technology.”

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