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Manchester to get new multimillion-pound theatre

The former Granada Studios in Manchester, which will be the site of the new Factory theatre.
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Manchester is to get a new multimillion-pound theatre, which will be home to the Manchester International Festival and will be part funded by £78 million from the government.

The Factory, a named after record label Factory, which was founded in Manchester in 1978, will be a “unique large scale, ultra-flexible arts space”, capable of seating 2,200 or 5,000 standing.

A statement from Manchester City Council said that the theatre will “play an integral part in helping Manchester and the north of England provide a genuine cultural counterbalance to London”.

The council had been pushing the government for £100m for the theatre, however it has not been confirmed how much the final total for the building will be.

Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester has a thriving creative industries sector and culture plays a central role in our growth strategy… The Factory Manchester will also feed the increasing demand for arts as the city continues to grow and provide a northern base for those wanting to work in the creative industries.”

The Factory will be built on the former Granada Studios site in the city centre and will sit at the heart of a new creative village.

It is not the first time that the idea of new large-scale venue in Manchester has been proposed. Plans for a £100m outpost of the Royal Opera House in Manchester had been discussed, but were put on hold in 2010.

Chair of MIF Tom Bloxham said that he hoped the Factory would be comparable in scale to London’s Coliseum and that it would attract “ground-breaking and pioneering works which might not otherwise come to the north of England, or even the UK”.

The creation of the new theatre was announced by chancellor George Osborne during his autumn statement, which also included the extension of creative sector tax reliefs to include children’s television from April 2015.

Osborne revealed that the treasury would help “an area of television production that’s been in decline”, by ushering in tax breaks for children’s television production, alongside its new animation credit.

Pact, the independent TV producers’ lobby, said tax credits “will make a real difference”, and that the government could benefit by up to £3 million a year from the scheme.

John McVay, chief executive of Pact, said: “Nowhere in the world does better kids’ TV than the UK. Time and time again, British TV producers have created the most successful, innovative and creative programmes for children. We have seen how successful a tax break for animation has been and we look forward to the boost it will give to children’s live-action TV – it will make a real difference.”

Directors UK, the industry body representing film and television directors, also welcomed the news.

Vice chair Beryl Richards, said: ” This announcement is great news for children’s television programming. Following the success of the introduction of TV tax credits for high-end drama and animation we are delighted that government has listened to calls from the industry to offer similar support to the UK children’s production industry.”

Meanwhile, the theatre tax relief scheme will also be extended to orchestras.

George Osborne also announced that the treasury will invest £141 million in the development and regeneration of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which will include Sadler’s Wells’ fourth space and a new arm of the V&A.

The development, named Olympicopolis, will provide Stratford with a “cultural hub” and will also include extra campuses for UCL and the University of the Arts London.

Arts Council England chair Peter Bazalgette said: “This additional investment in arts and culture in Manchester and beyond, including the Olympicopolis redevelopment, is recognition that arts and culture plays a critical role in regenerating our towns and cities.

“These measures will help support arts and culture at a time when there are still funding pressures on our sector.”

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