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Autumn Statement: £78m ‘Factory’ theatre planned for Manchester

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Chancellor George Osborne has pledged £78 million towards creating a new theatre – to be known as ‘The Factory’ – in Manchester

The new 2,200-capacity venue – announced in the Autumn Statement yesterday (3 December) – will be constructed on the former Granada Studios site within the city centre.

An architect has yet to be appointed for the high-profile Manchester City Council-backed project which is planned to complete in 2019.  

Allied London – the developer spearheading the television centre regeneration which is being dubbed St. John’s – has also yet to confirm whether a design competition would be held for the project.

Ian Simpson won a competition to design the commercial and residential elements of the 370,000m² Granada Studios regeneration job last summer.

The Factory has been named after Factory Records which started in Manchester in 1978 and promoted a raft of influential bands including Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays.

The arena is expected to become the new home of the Manchester International Festival (MIF). It will have a capacity for 2,200 seated observers or 5,000 standing guests.

Urban Splash co-founder and MIF chair Tom Bloxham said: ‘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.

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

Osborne said: ‘I am delighted to today give government support to this major new cultural and theatrical space in Manchester.

‘I have always said that culture is a key part of the Northern Powerhouse. I think that the name that has been suggested is absolutely brilliant. The Factory is Mancunian to the core.’

Further details of the project are expected to be announced early next year.


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