They say the arts and entertainment industries are largely confined to the capital – and to an extent they’d be right. However, more and more expansion is happening away from the south, as more and more investment is taking place hundreds of miles outside of the centre of London and spreading to the north of England and beyond.
Earlier this month (October 2023), the north gained a significant injection of cash for arts and culture. In fact, it is the UK’s biggest national cultural investment for over two decades – since the Tate Modern established itself in 2000.
We are, of course, referring to the Aviva Studios, a culturally rich hub to the sum of £210 million. Manchester City Council has supported the huge investment which sees the northern location as Factory International’s new home, seeing government, lottery and sponsorship investment from Aviva fund the ambitious project, which looks to encourage everyone to experience great arts and events.
The stunning venue opened with Free Your Mind – an immersive performance piece based on the sci-fi classic The Matrix – directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Danny Boyle, accompanied by Kenrick Sandy on choreography, composer Michael Asante and writer Sabrina Mahfouz.
Forecasting for the next decade is looking positive too, with an estimated 1,500 jobs created across the board (directly and indirectly), as well as an additional £1.1 billion funnelled into Manchester’s economy during this period.
Factory International will receive around £30 million in funding from the arts council over a three-year period as it maps out and delivers exciting, year-round programming in terms of events, festivals, exhibitions and shows that will begin to set the rest of the UK alight with said Mancunion development.
It’s fantastic news for the arts and culture sector as well as for Manchester and its surrounding areas. Slowly but surely we’re dispelling the age-old notion that everything happens in London when it comes to arts, entertainment and culture. And while it’s true that the nation’s capital is still a hub for all the aforementioned, the gradual dissemination of funding and increased development throughout the UK will, in time, prove to be a great thing for us all.