This week sees a significant milestone in the construction of The Factory, the landmark new cultural venue, currently being developed in Manchester city centre.
One of the biggest developments of its kind in Europe, The Factory is being commissioned by Manchester City Council and will be the permanent home of Manchester International Festival (MIF). MIF will present a year-round programme, featuring artists from around the world, as well as bringing jobs and skills and training opportunities for people from across the city.
Since the start of the year, The Factory’s structure has been becoming increasingly visible at its site, at the heart of the new St John’s development on the former Granada Studios, including an imposing steel frame, stairways, lift shafts and a structure that will house lifts capable of bringing two articulated trucks up into the building from street level.
Over the last two days, the massive proscenium truss, which will form part of the 1,600 capacity auditorium, has been installed. Weighing 125 tonnes, this huge steel structure, has been designed by the structural engineers BuroHappold and constructed by the Bury based firm William Hare Limited. The auditorium forms part of the major new complex, which will include a 5,000 capacity space and is designed by international architectural practice Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) to be one of the most flexible buildings of its kind.
This construction milestone comes as Manchester is named the second most creative city in Europe (after London), with a GVA of £1.4bn to the city from culture and creative industries**.
It also comes in the same week as the publication of the independent evaluation report into this year’s MIF, which shows that the biennial festival had an economic impact of £50m for the city. As well as running The Factory, MIF will continue to present the festival every other year at locations across Manchester.
The Factory is already making a difference to the lives of local people through jobs and apprenticeships during construction, and skills and development opportunities such as The Factory Academy – a brand new training and apprenticeship programme designed to help people from all backgrounds develop careers in the creative industries.
Established by MIF and backed by a consortium of leading arts organisations, The Factory Academy will help develop the next generation of technicians, producers and arts professionals working in a sector that is now worth more than £100 billion to the economy nationally.
The Factory is the first major, permanent cultural building in the UK designed by OMA, which was founded by Rem Koolhaas. Laing O’Rourke are leading the construction of the development.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The Factory is a state-of-the-art, high-quality, multi-functional building, incomparable in nature to any other currently being constructed in the UK. It’s fantastic to see the progress that has been made on site with the basic structure very much now visible.
“Providing a year-round cultural programme and limitless creative opportunities is only one part of The Factory story. Improving the life chances and job prospects of local people is a massive priority for us and the opportunities it will also provide for training and learning new technical and creative industry specific skills are just as important and will be second to none.
“Our creative sector is already thriving and Manchester is now recognised as the second largest creative city in Europe after London, with a GVA to the city’s economy of £1.4bn – all of which proves the soundness of our ongoing investment in culture and the arts, and our continuing belief in the power of culture and creativity, and The Factory, to transform lives.
“We’re very much looking forward to The Factory and to the difference we know it’s going to make both to local people here and also to the creative and cultural landscape nationally and internationally.”
John McGrath, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Manchester International Festival and The Factory said: “It’s been really exciting to see The Factory taking shape over the last few months. It’s going to play an important role in the life of the city, commissioning extraordinary artistic work and offering the biggest of welcomes for people from across Manchester and far beyond.”