City leaders have welcomed the award announced today by DCMS and Arts Council England of £21m to The Factory, the iconic world-class new cultural venue currently under construction in the heart of Manchester city centre.
The award - from the government's Cultural Capital Kickstart Fund - has been made to directly help offset the challenges and significant impact Covid-19 has had on the construction project, which have resulted in unforeseen additional costs and unavoidable delays in construction timescales.
The fund is part of the Government’s wider £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund package to protect the UK’s culture and heritage sectors from the economic impacts of the pandemic, and to help the country's post pandemic cultural recovery. £120m of this funding has been allocated specifically to support construction on cultural infrastructure, and for heritage construction projects in England which have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Designed by Rem Koolhaas's OMA, The Factory is backed by the city council, alongside HM Government and Arts Council England.
Predicted to bring a £1.1 billion boost to Manchester’s economy over its first decade alone, the landmark building will be one of the largest, most ambitious, and most versatile purpose-built arts spaces in the world.
Managed by Manchester International Festival and building on the Festival's success, The Factory will commission and 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.
The Factory has been identified by the city council as one of the key projects which will help power Manchester’s economic recovery from the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic and help usher in an exciting new chapter for the city.
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. Its Factory Futures programme will also benefit up to 10,000 unemployed young people in the next few years.
The unique, one-of-a-kind venue is central to the development of the new £1bn St John's Quarter currently being developed by Allied London in partnership with Manchester City Council on the site of the former Granada TV Studios.
It is already acting as a catalyst for the regeneration of this new creative neighbourhood and Enterprise City within it, which has the potential to accommodate 17,000 jobs in start-ups and media and tech companies.
As the country moves further out of the pandemic and consolidates its recovery The Factory will also bring with it enormous added value to the cultural sector in Manchester and beyond.
The city council already supports many cultural organisations in the city, both large and small - including the highly regarded and hugely successful Manchester International Festival - and has continued to do so throughout this unprecedented year that has seen the cultural sector amongst the very hardest hit due to Covid-19.
The additional opportunities The Factory will create for artists and other cultural organisations will have a significant and positive impact on the wider cultural economy of the region, and will also play an important part in helping ensure the continued growth of the UK's cultural sector as a whole, helping it to survive and thrive.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: "This is fantastic news for Manchester and for 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 for every one of us, and that has hit the culture sector harder than most, this will now 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.
"Culture enriches lives and also livelihoods - it helps make, shape, and grow communities. The importance of The Factory and the part it will play in this to Manchester, the wider region, and to the cultural economy of the UK as a whole cannot be overstated.
"We have never been in any doubt about the value of culture to Manchester, or for that matter the value of Manchester to culture. And never more certain either about the important part it will have to play in the city and the region's re-birth as we come out of this global pandemic.
"The Factory is going to re-draw 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."