Cost of Manchester arts venue rises by £20m


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The Factory will house two performance spaces, – the theatre (pictured) and the warehouse

The cost of building a new arts venue in Manchester has risen by almost £20m, the city council has said.

It means the budget for The Factory, to be built in the city’s St John’s neighbourhood, will now reach just over £130m.

The increase, which is expected to be met by Manchester City Council, will be voted on later this month.

It will be funded entirely through receipts from sales of council-owned land, said a spokesman.

The 5,000-capacity venue on the site of the former Granada TV studios is scheduled to open in early 2020 with construction expected to begin early next year.

As well as being the new home of the the biennial Manchester International Festival, it will host a range of dance, theatre and music performances as well as art exhibitions.

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The old Granada studios lot is being redeveloped, with part reserved for The Factory

The government has committed £78m towards the project with a further £7m Lottery funding from the Arts Council going for approval in January 2019.

But a recent review of the project identified a number of additional costs, including increased rates of inflation as well as the technical complexity of achieving the required acoustic standards for the building itself.

This last element, which had not been designed in detail when the original budget was produced, is expected to add £4.5m to the cost, the council said.

Manchester City Council is now expected to contribute £40.5m but said the additional £19m for the project would not impact on any other council budget.

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The Manchester International Festival has hosted Sir Kenneth Branagh and Bjork

Complex challenges

“The Factory will bring a £1.1bn boost to the city’s economy in its first decade alone,” said Sir Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester City Council.

“It is a bold and ambitious undertaking and such projects do not come without complex challenges which we have tackled head on so now we can be confident going forwards,” he said.

John McGrath, CEO of the Manchester International Festival, which will manage The Factory, said it “is going to have a major impact on the lives of people living across Manchester and will transform the cultural scene in the UK.”

When complete, it is expected to attract around 850,000 visitors annually.

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