Arts & Culture

New £186m Manchester arts venue reveals opening events

Featured image credit: OMA

Director Danny Boyle is set to launch a live production of The Matrix, which will be one of the opening shows at Manchester’s £186m ($206m/€211m) Factory International arts venue. 

Boyle is recreating the 1999 film through ‘dance, music and visual effects’, and the show will be one of the first to be staged at the 7,000-capacity venue in October and November next year.

Free Your Mind was part of the opening line-up announcement for the new venue, which had been known previously as The Factory. The venue has now been renamed Factory International, after the plans for it were revealed in 2014 as part of a £78m cultural upgrade.

Boyle said: “I’m delighted to be part of Factory International as a starting point for a kind of identity that this extraordinary new building is going to have. It’s a space that gives you an enormous amount of potential. It’s wildly ambitious in terms of its scale. In my lifetime, to see a new space like this open is hugely empowering, and I hope the new generation of artists feel that power.”

Boyle will work with designer Es Devlin, choreographer Kenrick “H20” Sandy, composer Michael “Mikey J” Asante and writer Sabrina Mahfouz.

Before its official opening, the venue will form the centre piece of the Manchester International Festival, which will run from June 29 until July 16 next year.  As part of the festival, there will be an immersive ‘You, Me and the Balloons’ experience from Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

Factory International will also become a permanent home for the Manchester International  Festival, with the aiming of attracting 850,000 people a year to the city. It is also hoped the project will create 1,500 jobs and provide a boost to economy worth £1.1bn over a decade.

Factory International has committed to ensuring access to the widest possible audience, by making 5,000 tickets for the Free Your Mind production available for £10 or less, as part of an affordable pricing strategy. This will also see discounted tickets available for Manchester communities all-year round. 

Following Free Your Mind, a nine-day programme called The Welcome will allow Manchester residents to explore the new space. 

Some 80 gigs will be held at the venue each including in-house concerts and collaborations with local and national promotors. 

The new venue was designed by Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) with OMA partner, Ellen van Loon as lead architect. 

John McGrath, artistic director and chief executive of Factory International, said: “We’re delighted to be able to share our opening plans for Factory International. At every stage in imagining and building this extraordinary space we have focussed on creating new possibilities – for artists to let their imaginations fly, for citizens of Manchester and the world to meet and dream, and for people of all ages and backgrounds to build skills and gain experience. Factory International is truly a place where we can invent tomorrow together.”