November 23, 2022

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A taste of Factory International, Manchester’s huge new £186m art space

daisy jackson

The looming gray structure of Factory International, Manchester’s new £186million cultural space, has taken shape, with its opening plans announced today.

Famed Danny Boyle will lead the hall’s opening production, a performance inspired by The matrix movies.

5000 tickets for free your mindwhich will be shown in the flexible spaces of the building, will sell for £10 or less, to give everyone in the community a chance to experience the huge site.

Factory International is due to open in June 2023, programmed and operated by the team behind the Manchester International Festival.

The massive 13,350 square meter space inside uses oversized moveable walls, which can reconfigure the space for different performances.

With its location on the banks of the River Irwell, floor-to-ceiling windows will be installed in the bar, offering views of the Ordsall Chord and the river itself.

Factory International will welcome artists from around the world with its year-round arts, music and culture program.

It is the biggest investment in a national cultural project since the Tate Modern opened in 2000, thanks to nearly £100m of government funding and additional support from Manchester City Council and the Arts Council from England.

Directed by Danny Boyle free your mindalso created with choreographer Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy MBE, composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante MBE, renowned global designer Es Devlin and renowned writer Sabrina Mahfouz, will officially launch Factory International from October 18 to November 5, 2023.

CGI from Inside Factory International. Credit: OMA 10

But the space will come to life much sooner than that, with the Manchester International Festival using the space for its biennial event and filling it with inflatable sculptures between June 29 and August 28, 2023.

The major exhibition comes from Yayoi Kusama and will be called You, me and the balloons, with inflatable structures 10 meters high in the shape of giant dolls, tense landscapes and dotted spheres.

There will be a nine day program called Home next fall, with everything from circus to music to fashion filling the building.

Artist Luke Jerram will also celebrate the birth of hundreds of locally born babies, shooting beams of light into the sky to represent the new arrivals – and each of the families with babies born in January will receive a lifetime membership to Factory International.

The new cultural venue is located in the St John’s area, on the site of the former Granada Studios.

International factory. Image by OMA 24

John McGrath, Artistic Director and Managing Director of Factory International, said, “We are delighted to be able to share our opening plans for Factory International. At every stage of imagining and building this extraordinary space, we have focused on creating new possibilities – for artists to let their imaginations run wild, for citizens of Manchester and the world to meet and dream, and for people of all ages and backgrounds to develop skills and gain experience. Factory International is truly a place where we can invent tomorrow together.

Stuart Andrew, Minister for the Arts, said: “Thanks to almost £100million of government funding, Factory International will further increase access to world-class arts and culture in Manchester when it opens for the first time. first time in the summer of 2023. This represents a great example of the government’s commitment to spreading funding for the arts across the country.

“It’s fantastic to see such an exciting program of events put together for its opening and I can’t wait to see the positive impact the venue is having on the city.”

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Councilor Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This remarkable new space, rooted in Manchester, will be an important addition to the national and international arts landscape and a major tourist destination. Factory International will further strengthen the city’s role as a center of culture, creativity and innovation. It is already creating jobs and apprenticeships for the people who live there and will be an important training center for a range of creative careers. As well as directly changing lives, Factory International will give Manchester a huge economic boost, creating or supporting up to 1,500 jobs and adding £1.1 billion to the city’s economy over a decade. It is, in more ways than one, a defining moment. »

Ellen van Loon, OMA Partner and Principal Architect, said: “Factory International will be a new type of performance space – a unique cross between a fixed theater and a flexible warehouse. Oversized moveable walls allow for endless configurations within a large space, providing audiences with unexpected views of the performers. I hope that every time people come to Factory International they always experience something different, as if each visit they encounter a different building.

Danny Boyle, Director, said, “I am delighted to be part of Factory International as a starting point for some kind of identity that this extraordinary new building is going to have. It is a space that offers you enormous potential. It is extremely ambitious in terms of scale. In my lifetime, seeing a new space like this open up is hugely empowering, and I hope the next generation of artists will feel that power.

Es Devlin, artist and designer, said: “Since its inception in 2007, the Manchester International Festival has produced some of the most innovative and urgent works I have had the good fortune to witness, which have had an impact immense on my practice, including pioneers such as Steve McQueen, Adam Curtis, Marina Abramović, Björk, Akram Khan, Yoko Ono and many more. Factory International will continue to cultivate these world-class collaborations, with each project rooted in this specific site and within the Manchester community. It is an immense privilege to be invited to participate in its creation. Like a new musical instrument, a new building needs to be “tuned”, and it is extremely energizing to be present when it begins to sing.

Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante MBE, Producer, Composer and DJ, said: “Factory International’s uniqueness and versatility allows us to really create something different and be magical, play with different concepts and open a whole new way of trying to interact with our creativity. With our production, we want to show people what they could do in this space, that they have the opportunity to create something different and get them to consider how they would use it.

Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy MBE, choreographer and performer, said: “What excites me is the flexibility of Factory International, exploring the versatility of the building, how to take the place to another level. I want us, as artistic collaborators, to be challenged in space.

Featured Image: Pawel Paniczko