The Factory artists impression.

Originally costing £110m, The Factory arts centre is now expected to cost £186m and the project is currently tens of millions short of its target. Manchester City Council say they can’t fill the gap because of the dire financial straits they face due to Covid.


The Factory arts venue, already over-budget and over-time, is short of funding to get the project over the line. Manchester City Council, who have already invested £50m into the project, say that another £23m is needed to ensure the venue is completed.

Plans for The Factory hit the headlines in 2017 when it was announced that the venue, then predicted to cost £110m, would be built on the former Granada Studio site in the city centre. It was put forward as a key part of the George Osborne backed northern powerhouse project, and the government pledged £78m towards its costs, leaving the council and other backers to fund the rest. The venue, designed by Rem Koolhaas, intends to be the permanent home of the Manchester International Festival, and was planned to open in 2019. Delays and rising costs have increased the total to £186m with the venue currently schedule to open in December 2022.

Alongside the substantial contributions from central and local government, other big backers of the project have been the National Lottery, the Arts Council and the MIF’s own fundraising Factory Trust. But all these funders have still left the pot £23m short and new investors are hard to find in the current uncertain financial climate due to the Covid crisis and Brexit.

The project is being jointly  developed by the council and property development company Allied London. It is forecast that the arts centre will provide 1,500 local jobs and boost the local economy by £1.1bn once it is up and running.

Manchester City Council are facing a £105m budget shortfall and are having to implement £80m in spending cuts, part of which will be made through 195 council employee redundancies forecast for this year. Private Eye reports that the council has said it can “afford no more” towards funding The Factory due to the dire financial straits it faces.

Many other established arts venues in Manchester are also struggling financially due to the Covid crisis and the cultural devastation caused by lockdown. The Factory could face serious difficulty in raising the money needed to proceed as planned, with so many cultural venues crying out for the funds to stay afloat.

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Feature image: OMA/Factory Manchester

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  • Conrad Bower

    Reporting interests include social justice, the environment, and human rights. A staunch advocate for the scientific method and rational debate for understanding the world - he believes only greater public understanding and engagement with the problems affecting society, can produce the progressive change we need. Co-founder of The Meteor.

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