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Cost of Manchester’s Factory arts centre soars by £20 million

The latest artist's impression of the Factory
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The cost of building Manchester’s Factory arts centre has risen by nearly £20 million, almost doubling the council’s funding contribution, it has been revealed.

This means the total budget for the flagship theatres and arts venue, which will be home to Manchester International Festival, has risen from £111.6 million to £130.6 million.

Manchester City Council had previously committed to providing £21.6 million towards the project, but is planning an increase of £19 million, taking its total contribution to more than £40 million.

According to a report to be considered by the council’s executive next week, the increase in costs is needed to carry out improvements to the acoustics, an area which forced designers back to the drawing board last year amid fears that the original plans were not fit for purpose.

About £5.5 million of the additional money is needed to cover inflation because of delays to the project – it is running approximately two years behind schedule and will now be fully up and running in time for the 2021 MIF rather than the planned 2019 festival.

The council’s increased spend will also cover staff costs and the acquisition of a 999-year lease on the site and its freehold interests.

First announced in 2014, the Factory is receiving £78 million from central government, and has secured an Arts Council England funding package of £7 million.

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The second planning application was approved earlier this year, but concerns have been raised over the building’s accessibility for wheelchair users.

Manchester City Council’s executive is recommended to approve the increased budget at a meeting on November 14.

Council leader Richard Leese said: “There is nothing like the Factory anywhere in Europe, let alone the UK, and its game-changing impact for Manchester and the north of England cannot be overstated.

“Culture already plays a crucial roles in the economy and wider life of the city and the Factory will be a major new destination which will take this to a whole new level. It’s a bold and ambitious undertaking and such projects do not come without complex challenges which we have tackled head on now so we can be confident going forwards.”

John McGrath, artistic director of MIF, added: “The Factory is going to have a major impact on the lives of people living across Manchester and will transform the cultural scene in the UK.

“The Factory will provide space on an epic scale for artists to make extraordinary work and be a global meeting place, where everyone is invited to take part.”

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