A breakthrough has come for Manchester’s currently under-construction arts venue as it receives a £21 million Kickstart Fund.
Following ongoing funding worries from increasing construction costs due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, The Factory – a “world-class cultural space” in the heart of the city and the year-round home for Manchester International Festival (MIF) – has successfully been granted £21 million from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England.
The award is from the Cultural Capital Kickstart Fund.
This fund forms part of the government’s £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund package to protect the UK’s culture and heritage sectors from the economic impacts of the pandemic, and is intended to help offset the string of challenges that have led those mounting costs and project delays.
A total of £120 million of the fund has been allocated specifically to support construction of cultural infrastructure across the UK.
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, and it is predicted to bring a £1.1 billion boost to Manchester’s economy over its first decade alone.
The landmark building is setting out to be one of the largest, most ambitious, and most versatile purpose-built arts spaces in the world.
Having been identified by Manchester City Council to usher in an exciting new chapter of economic recovery, The Factory will present a year-round programme of extraordinary, ground-breaking, and interdisciplinary work by leading artists from across the globe.
Attracting up to 850,000 visitors a year, it will be capable of hosting everything from epic concerts to intimate performances including music, dance, theatre, opera, visual arts, and innovative contemporary work incorporating the latest digital technologies.
It will create and directly support 1,500 new jobs in the city over a decade and help the next generation of creative talent to flourish, offering a programme of backstage training and skills for people living across Manchester.
The ‘Factory Futures’ programme will also benefit up to 10,000 unemployed young people.
As the country moves further out of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and consolidates its recovery, The Factory will also bring with it enormous added value to the cultural sector in Manchester and beyond.
The additional opportunities it is set to create for artists and other cultural organisations will also have a significant and positive impact on the wider cultural economy of the region, and will play an important part in helping ensure the continued growth of the UK’s cultural sector as a whole.
Speaking on the latest fund allocation, 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.”
You can find more information about The Factory via the MIF website here.