Earlier this year, an additional £25.2m was added to Factory International’s budget to allow it to complete its ambitious building work, taking its original estimate from £110m to £210.8m.
Manchester City Council said it could ‘recover a significant proportion of these capital costs through a long-term naming rights agreement’.
And today, insurance company Aviva, the council, and Factory International have announced a long-term partnership that will include naming the arts hub Aviva Studios.
The huge waterfront space, spanning 13,350 sq metre space and using supersized moveable walls to create different performance spaces, is predicted to add £1.1bn to the economy of Manchester over a decade.
It will support up to 1500 direct and indirect jobs and provide training and engagement opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds.
Factory International, now known as Aviva Studios, will officially open in October with Danny Boyle’s large-scale immersive The Matrix-inspired production, Free Your Mind.
The programme and operation of Aviva Studios will still fall to Factory International, who promise a year-round programme of original creative work, music and special events by some of the world’s leading artists.
Aviva says it will work closely with Factory International and Manchester City Council on sustainability and community projects, like skills training programme Factory Academy.
Amanda Blanc, Group Chief Executive Officer, Aviva said: “Aviva is thrilled to be backing this new, world-class arts building in Manchester. It builds on Aviva’s leading role in the UK, serving more than 15 million customers, employing 16,000 people, and investing billions each year into the UK’s regional economy.
“The new Aviva Studios will help make arts and culture more accessible and inclusive and follows the significant investment Aviva Investors has already made in Manchester, such as the development of Enterprise City.”
Bev Craig, leader of Manchester City Council said: “Aviva Studios, as the home of Factory International, will be a nationally and internationally important cultural attraction in the heart of Manchester.This multi-year, multi-million-pound partnership reflects the magnitude of the venue not just for the city but for the north of England and the UK as a whole.
“This will be a momentous year for the venue as audiences experience its wow factor and enjoy inspiring art in its incredible spaces for the first time. It has undoubtedly been a challenge to create this remarkable building with its unique design against a difficult construction context, including rocketing inflation, without diluting the ambitious vision behind it.
“The new partnership helps make this possible, as well as supporting Factory International’s ongoing success and work with the community to open up access to the arts and training opportunities. The Council will receive the largest share of funding, supporting our up-front investment in the venue and the wider St John’s neighbourhood, as well as adding social value.
“Aviva has the credentials to be an ideal partner. We are looking forward to collaborating with them on this amazing venue and welcome the expansion of their existing commitment to Manchester.”
John McGrath, Chief Executive & Artistic Director of Factory International, said: “This historic new partnership will provide vital support for the construction and future life of our landmark new home, building on the generous public funding support already pledged to the project.
“Aviva’s values and commitment align with our own and we will also be working together on a range of initiatives, from sustainability to our £10 ticket scheme to ensure that our programme of work is accessible to all. They will also be principal partner on Factory Academy, a programme that is changing the landscape in terms of access to jobs in the creative industries for people from every background.
“With the city council, we are all committed to strengthening Manchester’s reputation as a nationally and internationally important centre for culture and creativity, as well as bringing jobs, skills, training and creative opportunities for local people and artists.”
Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “We are delighted at the news of this major support from Aviva to the landmark new home of Factory International, the most significant cultural venue to be built in the UK in recent years. The creative and cultural sector in this country is founded on the relationship between public and private sector investment.
“The newly named Aviva Studios has benefited from very significant public sector investment throughout its development, from HM Government, Manchester City Council and Arts Council England, and we very much welcome the commitment of Aviva to support the venue going forward.”
Featured image: OMA 24
Art & Culture
The incredible new lantern trail around a northern theme park with Yorkshire pudding wraps, boozy hot chocolates, and more
Yorkshire pudding wraps and boozy hot chocolates are just some of the festive treats on offer at an incredible new lantern trail.
In case you haven’t heard, Land of Lights has now opened at Gulliver’s World in Warrington, and it’s transformed the much-loved North West theme park into an immersive winter wonderland for the Christmas season – with 12 “vivid dreamworlds” full of dozens of gigantic lanterns inspired by animals, mega monuments, and wonders of the natural world to marvel at.
As the sun goes down and the nights draw in, visitors are now able to explore an amazing array of light installations as they walk all around the park.
More than 7,000 individual lanterns and hundreds of thousands of LED lights create the spectacle.
Having been already enchanting families since it opened at few weeks back now, Land of Lights is a first-of-its-kind attraction for the area, and it’s arrived in Warrington after it was held for the first time ever at Gulliver’s Land down in Milton Keynes last year, and proved to be a smash-hit success that was visited by thousands.
The award-winning work of the Zigong Lantern Group – with more than 100 people involved in the production process, and it taking six months to design, manufacture, and artistically finish – Land of Lights seems to already be garnering rave reviews.
But those aren’t just down to all the show-stopping lanterns and light installations.
That’s because visitors also have the chance to tuck into a feast of festive-themed street food and drinks all throughout the festival too.
As you make your way around the illuminated park, you can grab everything from freshly-made and generously-filled Yorkshire pudding wraps, and an impressive selection of handmade churros, to authentic German sausages and bratwursts, and a winter-warming lineup of tipples and soft drinks like mulled wine, beer, and boozy hot chocolates.
Not only that, but there’s also Lagado’s Restaurant & Grill located on site too, which offers up a wide range of sit-down meal options inside its warm restaurant on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays of the festival.
As we mentioned, the event looks to have been proving pretty popular in the short time since it’s opened, with positive reviews coming in thick and fast.
One glowing review reads: “We visited Land of Lights at Gulliver’s world, I have to say it’s breathtaking, much more than what I imagined, well worth the money, definitely recommended.
“Like stepping into a fairy tale, it’s an amazing experience. You have hot food and drink, different gadget shops during the trail, it’s an instant stress relief after a bad day. Parking is free.”
Whether you can believe it or not, it’s actually been two whole decades since the 2003 Christmas cult classic that is Elf was released to the world, and with December literally just a few days away now, there’s no better way to celebrate this special anniversary than seeing the film return to the big screen for a limited time only.
From this week, you can head on down to Vue cinemas in both Manchester Printworks and inside Quayside MediaCity, as well as others throughout the region, to watch the beloved festive flick.
Going on to become a much-loved festive favourite that’s watched by families all over the world every time December rolls around, Elf is a Christmas comedy film that tells the story of a human raised by Santa’s elves.
As Buddy grows older, he eventually learns about his origins, and heads to New York City on a mission to meet his biological father.
Directed by on Favreau and written by David Berenbaum Elf has been hailed by many as a modern classic, and it’s often listed as one of the best Christmas films of all time.
It stars legendary comic actor Will Ferrell as the title character Buddy the Elf, alongside a talented ensemble cast of famous faces such as Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Bob Newhart, Jon Favreau, Peter Dinklage, and more in supporting roles.
Ferrell’s performance as Buddy was also praised by critics and audiences alike at the time of the film’s release, and many have even called it one of the best performances of his career.
Speaking ahead of Elf’s return to cinemas this Christmas, Mike Anton, who is the General Manager of Vue Manchester Printworks, said: “Christmas is all about spending quality time with friends and family, and creating treasured moments to last a lifetime.
“So we’re glad to be marking the merry occasion with a lineup of some of the most iconic and beloved Christmas classics.”
Tickets to see Elf at Vue Manchester Printworks and Vue Manchester Quayside are now available to get your hands on from just £4.99 when booked online here.
If you also find yourself at a loose end in Manchester city centre over the next couple of weeks, there’s another a little hidden cinema tucked away inside popular hotel King Street Townhouse that’s screening a jam-packed lineup of classic Christmas films throughout December too – including Love Actually, Home Alone, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
You can also sip on festive cocktails, and snack on popcorn and pick n mix while you watch all the festive flicks too.