MIF Factory starts on site

Laing O’Rourke has started work on £110m cultural venue The Factory in St John’s, Manchester, designed by Dutch practice the Office for Metropolitan Architecture.

OMA founder Rem Koolhaas and colleague Ellen van Loon were in the city on Saturday for the groundbreaking ceremony. He was joined by John Glen, arts minister; Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council; Tom Bloxham, chair of Manchester International Festival; and Sir Nicholas Serota, former Tate director and now head of funding board Arts Council England.

Factory Groundbreaking 2

Artist Laurie Anderson curated the groundbreaking ceremony

Manchester International Festival artist Laurie Anderson devised a special performance for the ceremony.

Koolhaas and Ellen van Loon also gave a talk about the project afterward the ceremony, chaired by Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine Gallery.

John Glen, minister for arts, heritage and tourism, said: “The Factory will be a truly world-class cultural venue for the whole of the North to enjoy. The Government’s £78m investment is helping to deliver this fantastic project for the Northern Powerhouse that will boost jobs, visitor numbers and champion arts and culture across the region. The vision, ambition and innovation of The Factory is inspirational and I am excited to see it develop in the coming years.”

The project team includes WSP, Gardiner & Theobald, Buro Happold, Arup, Charcoalblue, Deloitte, and David Bonnett Associates.

Manchester International Festival will be the operator of the building as well as continuing to deliver the Festival every two years.

The total capital costs of the project are £110m. The project was recently awarded major funding by Arts Council England including £7m capital from the Lottery fund and £9m annual revenue from 2018-22. The capital funding will be paid to Manchester City Council. The total capital cost of the project is £110m comprising £78m Exchequer funding, up to £20m from Manchester City Council contribution, the Lottery funding and a minimum fundraising target of £5m. Manchester International Festival, the operator for Factory, has been awarded £9.73m a year of which £9m is for The Factory and £730,000 is for the continuation of the biennial festival.

The successful funding bids were based on economic forecasts that 1,500 full-time jobs would be created or supported and £1.1bn added to the city’s economy over a decade.

The Factory is OMA’s first major public building in the UK. Ellen van Loon, partner, OMA, said: “Factory provides the ultimate versatile space in which art, theatre and music come together: a platform that allows for experimentation in the cultural scene and cross fertilization between typologies.

“The venue will give MIF, which never had its own building, a fixed theatre that is extremely flexible, blurring the lines between back of house and front of house, inside and outside, art and public culture.

“Breathing the raw atmosphere of Manchester’s industrial past, its design aims to preserve the city’s rough edge, as a sort of resistance to the pervasive beautification of inner cities.”

The Factory is situated at Allied London’s new St. John’s neighbourhood, formerly home to Granada TV.

Your Comments

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Excellent news!


Great news! It’s a really interesting design and I’m looking forward to it being built

By David

There is no money for anything needed or anywhere else except Manchester.

By Scouse B.

Could Merseyside please have a share of the great northern powerhouse cake?

By Metal Micky

Manchester are re-balancing the northern economy. You could give 10x as much to another northern area and it would have only a fraction of the impact on the northern economy. This is why Manchester is normally first in line.

By Raj

Clearly Manchester is the Conservative’s pet and London’s mini-me.


London totally dominates the South, because it is the only city south of Brirmingham of any size. Every other country of a similar size to England has a second city, which is just slightly less economically viable than the capital. England has failed to invest in another big city and this is why we have this chasm between London and the rest. This is beginning to change and Manchester is taking up this role. If we divide the money thinly between everyone, then we will still have a dominant London and a few cities with no economic clout. Manchester must be the epicentre of this Northern Powerhouse, as it is equidistant between Liverpool and Leeds. Do people think that if this was built in Middlesborough, it would have the same impact on the North’s economy? I do not know what the answer is for the other cities. Of course Merseyside needs investment and it won’t become Croydon to Manchester’s London that is for sure, but it isn’t as if Liverpool and Leeds are that far away on a train, or by road. Leeds got the Armouries museum, Liverpool the Tate.

By Elephant

Manchester counts its government money while Liverpool counts its blessings.

By Hwy££

Liverpool gets lots of money for its arts and culture scene.


Birmingham is England’s second city. Why does Manchester think it is taking up this role?

By Shane

Another £110m for the Mancs but as usual nothing for Liverpool.

By L19

If Birmingham is England’s second city, it needs to start acting like it Shane. A second city only two hours away from the richest city in Europe, yet economically decades behind. Birmingham has the lowest wages of any of our great cities, except Sheffield, and the wards with the highest unemployment, yet it is no further from London on a train than Brighton. Manchester has been effectively managed by people with vision at the Town Hall and deserves its success. Nobody outside Birmingham thinks it is our second city,as recent polls prove.

By Elephant

The Arts Council have revealed the big winners and losers in funding for the next four years. Two theaters in Liverpool, The Everyman and Playhouse will share £1,649,977 per year between them. The Manchester Royal Exchange has bagged £2,332,000 per year all to itself, so don’t give me this “Liverpool gets lots of money for its arts and culture scene.”

By Flan

I`m from Morecombe., There is a lot of jealousy from a certain other north west city. Get well soon. You go Manchester!

By M. Bryce

Manchester took up the role of second city
10 years ago. Even one of birmingham’s top councillors admits they have been overtaken by Manchester. Why is it Liverpool people always moan at Manchester instead of getting on with the job! If Liverpool got some money does that mean us in Northwich or Macclesfield or Crewe can moan about you getting to much of the slice! Get over it! And if you want some money put your proposal forward to the government!

By Northwich,, Cheshire

How much does the government pour into National Museumd Liverpool coffers year on year? How much of their debt have they written off? How much have they invested in the Pier Head, funding practically every single cultural facility there and even going so far to as to force the Tate to locate their branch there?

DCMS must have a cash machine secreted somewhere in Liverpool such is the amount of public money dispensed in and around the docks over the last twenty years or so. Liverpool’s cultural infastucture has benefitted from government largesse on a titanic scale so its high time the balance was tipped back towards other cities.

By Just askin

It was gifted to Manchester by George Osborne -supposedly as a cultural venue for all the north of England.

By A

This will be a good thing for the north west (apart from Liverpool). My only concern is due to the cost of it, that it will hold its purpose for many years to come.

By Cultural Vulture

@justasking, you’ve been told to look it up on Google, no need to keep repeating yourself, now you’ve got me doing it.

By Just saying

Manchester was bound to be favourite for this venue. I have always found Liverpool too parochial.
Liverpool will always complain. It’s in the genes. If anywhere has a reason to feel short changed, it’s the cities of Yorkshire.

By Don Caster

I find Manchester and Leeds far more cosmopolitan than Liverpool is.

By Barry Donnelly


By Uu

National Museums Liverpool gets around 20 million a year to support seven venues, An it could be argued that this this debt was due to under funding of said venues and besides this was part of the city deal for Liverpool to write the debt off. In terms of forcing the Tate to locate there this sounds vaguely familiar, like how the BBC were forced against their wishes to locate in Manchester. ” such is the amount of public money dispensed in and around the docks over the last twenty years or so. Liverpool’s cultural infastucture has benefitted from government largesse on a titanic scale” I’ll presume you have sources to prove this statement?

By Flan

It was gifted. What is so controversial about saying that? There was no bidding process or competition for the funding. The idea of it being used for the MIF was an after-thought – not the reason for its existence. Don’t understand why people cannot just accept that Manchester has done fairly well out of central government in recent times. Well, comparative to other cities, apart from London.

By Flan

Why would this not benefit Liverpool but the rest of the NW? I go to Liverpool because I love it and enjoy what is on offer.I am sure Liverpudlians go to Manchester and enjoy what it has to offer.The suburbs of these cities practically meet,so what is all this parochial nonsense?A Merseyside/GM amalgamation is almost a certainty at some point,as our two Mayors are keen to promote this.

By Elephant

So now we know that Liverpool has been gifted, perhaps more than anywhere else from HM Gov cultural cash machine over the years (Albert Dock, World Museum, 4th Grace / Mann Island funding, Tate, ACC, canal link and public realm, multi £m on-going NML revenue funding and debt write-off etc). Why do Liverpudlians begrudge other places getting small slice of the cake?

By Just askin

@Don Caster, there are many things in the “Genes” in both Manchester and Leeds that we would not welcome or want in the Liverpolis.

By Liverpolitis

You just don’t get it do you, maintaining venues is one thing, massive expenditure on new venues in times of austerity is quite another.

By Flan

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