The Factory Auditorium Interior Copyright OMA
The 143,000 sq ft scheme is intended to stage a variety of arts exhibitions and performances

Fresh funding boost for The Factory

Sarah Townsend

The under-construction Manchester arts venue has received £21m from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England, intended to help offset a string of challenges that have led to mounting costs and project delays.

The award is from the Cultural Capital Kickstart Fund, which is part of the Government’s £1.57bn Cultural Recovery Fund package to protect the UK’s culture and heritage sectors from the economic impacts of the pandemic. A total of £120m of the fund has been allocated specifically to support construction of cultural infrastructure across the UK.

Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas’s studio OMA, The Factory is backed by Manchester City Council, which invested £20m in the 143,000 sq ft scheme in 2018, the Government, from which it has a £78m grant, and the National Lottery, which has provided £7m.

It is intended to be a modern and innovative arts and culture hub for Manchester in developer Allied London’s St John’s mixed-use neighbourhood, and to serve as a permanent home for the Manchester International Festival.

However, the project has been beset with project delays and spiralling costs over the years. Manchester City Council noted in a report in October that delays caused by the pandemic, and other challenges, meant that the project needed an additional £45m to complete – pushing the budget to £186m in total.

Meanwhile, the completion date has slipped to December 2022, from 2019 when the project was first announced in 2014.

The Factory Street View Across The River Copyright OMA

Street view of The Factory from across the River Irwell c.OMA

Last month, the city council hired 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.

The council predicts the scheme to bring a £1.1bn boost to Manchester in the first decade after its completion. The intention is for The Factory and MIF to commission and present a year-round programme of groundbreaking interdisciplinary work by artists from around the world.

The venue is anticipated to attract up to 850,000 visitors a year and host a range of performances, from music, dance, theatre, opera, visual arts, and contemporary work incorporating the latest digital technologies.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This is fantastic news for Manchester and the cultural economy not just of the North but of the whole country.

“After a year that none of us could have foreseen and that has brought with it challenge after challenge and hit the culture sector harder than most, this [funding] will secure the completion of a world-class cultural space that is quite literally going to change lives.

“We’re extremely grateful to DCMS and Arts Council England for their continued support for The Factory and for the substantial award announced today to help address the unforeseen additional costs and delays on the project due to Covid-19.”

He added: “The Factory is going to redraw the UK cultural map and will do much to bolster Manchester and the North’s credentials as an economic and creative powerhouse to rival not just London, but the rest of Europe and beyond.”

The Factory Exterior Night Copyright OMA

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This looks interesting…expensive but interesting.

By Dave Dee

Be good to see this completed at last. Will add greatly to the Arts not just in Manchester but right across the North West

By Cityscape

So we all have to travel to Manchester now for our entertainment among other things, that’s the way it’s starting to appear I fear.
No consideration for other areas and a” oh it’s easy to get there and back late at night attitude”
If the shoe was on the other foot I can imagine the furore about this centralisation with continued Government support.

By Think of other places.

Thought they were getting £70 million from the Co op

By Ken

Does Mcr ever fund anything with its own cash?

By Kenny

The institutions on the Pier Head were all built with government money and continue to receive subsidies so I don’t see a problem with sharing out the cultural spend to other cities.

By I have thought about it

Great design looking forward to seeing it completed

By Monty

Blah blah, more money please, blah blah, covid, blah blah. Fancy completing a project on budget sometime?

By Chris Watson

There really is no need for this development

By Chris Watson

“…delays caused by the pandemic…” – don’t insult us with that old chestnut…

By Jess Arnott

Manchester/GM has this almost magic formula to attract massive amounts of central government funding for projects, these are sums that many other cities can only dream of but never achieve.
Is it a magic formula, or is it that Manchester cosily pre plans these projects with government, and therefore the funding is already in place, I think the latter.
The Factory cultural centre will now have received £98million of public money plus £7million of lottery funding, also remembering way back in 2000 the Lowry Arts centre received £64 million of lottery funding, meanwhile we recall that the Commonwealth Games stadium had a funding shortfall of £100million which Labour bankrolled. Favouritism, Cronyism ? Surely not ?

By Anonymous

Piccadilly Gardens Wall part 2?

By Anonymous

850,000 visitors per year or 17,000 per week, really? Whatever happened to penalty clauses? This budget was underwater well before COVID

By Anonymous

It’s so sad that whenever this place is mentioned people can only respond to it with misery and moaning.

I agree that it’s disappointing that there is never anybody capable of doing maths when it comes to publicly funding developments but that is not MIF or the Factory’s fault; that’s a wider British trait that needs investigating.

I think the Factory will be a fantastic addition to the city, I am excited about when it opens and I believe Manchester is very fortunate to have such a development.

By .

It`s highly surprising that considering government austerity, and specifically with the cut backs in arts and culture that its been gifted with the largesse it has.

By Liverpool romance

This will be a great building and makes a welcome change for the Government to support an arts project outside of London.

By Lenny68

A great addition to the severely underfunded arts sector…and outside London too! Yes please.

By John