Christine Cort Mancorialist Blog Pic
Cort, pictured by The Mancorialist, courtesy of MIF

Cort resigns, MIF to hire Factory venue director

David Thame and Place Newsdesk

Christine Cort, the longstanding managing director of Manchester International Festival, is leaving her post in March and a new role is being created.

Cort, who is serving a six-month notice period after resigning last year for personal reasons, will not be directly replaced, a spokesperson for MIF told The Subplot, part of Place North West.

Instead, MIF is recruiting for an executive role of venue director, “which will lead on preparation for the world-class Factory arts space that will be the festival’s year-round home”, the spokesperson said.

Cort said in a statement: “It’s been the most life-affirming journey helping to set up MIF, but I feel that now is the right time for me to start a new chapter.

“I remain completely committed to both MIF and The Factory and I know there is a bright future ahead. Initially, I plan to have a break and then set up a company, CC & Friends, working on projects I care passionately about.”

An incoming Factory venue director would be responsible for overseeing plans for the long-awaited building that is to serve as MIF’s headquarters. The troubled project has been subject to mounting costs and project delays.

Intended to be a modern and innovative arts and culture hub for Manchester in developer Allied London’s St John’s mixed-use neighbourhood, the Factory’s construction budget has risen to £186m from £130m when the scheme was first announced in 2014.

It has already benefitted from almost £100m of Government grants – the most recent being £21m from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport and Arts Council England, was allocated in December – and the city council has earmarked a further £43m for the project.

Meanwhile, the completion date has slipped to December 2022, from 2019 when the OMA-designed project was first announced.

Manchester City Council last year brought on board Flan McNamara, a former construction chief at Sellar Property Group, developer of London’s Shard tower, as a consultant to help progress the scheme.

McNamara is working with The Factory’s main contractor Laing O’Rourke to deliver the project and help it stay within budget and on schedule.

Construction is currently due to be completed by December 2022.

Cort has worked for MIF for 16 years after her previous post as group marketing director for Time Out Group in London.

MIF has made several other significant staff appointments in recent weeks to strengthen the team as it prepares for The Factory’s completion, including executive director Randel Bryan, whose background includes working for production firms Endemol Shine and Discovery Education; director of music Jane Beese, who has joined from the Roundhouse in Camden; and Helen Faulkner, director of audiences, who joins from the Southbank Centre.

The Factory Exterior Night Copyright OMA

Dutch architect Rem Koolhaus’ OMA designed the scheme

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Absolute legend!

By GT

Chris has done so much for Manchester’s cultural profile. MIF is unique and consistently punched well above its weight with a dynamic programme that was truly ‘Manc’. We owe this lady so much.

By Dave McCall