Manchester City Council poised to approve extra £22m in funding for futuristic venue


Source: Mark Waugh/Manchester City Council

Festival Square, in front of Factory International at Aviva Studios

OMA’s Factory International venue in Manchester is set to have cost more than £240m – well over twice its original £110m budget – by the time it hosts its first large-scale performance next month, according to the city council’s latest funding estimate.

A report to members of Manchester City Council’s Executive committee is seeking authorisation for a further £22.2m to complete the futuristic cultural hub, which features a 1,600-seat theatre and a 5,000-capacity space called the Warehouse.

While OMA is concept architect for Factory International, Ryder Architecture was appointed as executive architect in 2020.

Back in July councillors approved an £8.7m capital-funding boost for the project, taking its budget at the time to £219.5m. They were warned that an extra funding request for a larger sum to finish the venue would be made this month.

July’s report listed “design challenges” related to the building’s complexity, work required on the secondary steelworks for the venue’s proscenium doors, humidity damage and “hyper-inflation” on the procurement and delivery of the final works among the cost pressures being faced.

Documents published ahead of Wednesday’s meeting give a total budget for Factory International of £238.8m. However the latest ask would take funding committed to the project to £241.7m. Public realm works have also seen cost increases of above £1m, but are classed as separate from the main building costs of the venue.

Factory International. Image by OMA 01

Source: OMA

Visualisation of the completed building

In July, Manchester City Council anticipated that the additional funding now being sought would “include the costs of the commissioning period and any changes in the construction final accounts”.

A breakdown of the latest funding request says £15.7m of the amount reflects “revision of the completion date to September” including staffing costs, storage and contractor claims, acceleration measures, additional works and “crystallisation of risk items and contingency spend”.

The total £22.2m figure also includes £5m in contingency funds, £800,000 in client-side fees for the retention of key project-delivery staff and £700,000 for unspecified “additional risk items under negotiation”.

> Also read: Manchester’s new joy division: Factory International

When the project secured planning permission in 2017 the government had committed £78m towards its then budget of £110m. Earlier this year Manchester said government support for the venue – named in honour of Factory Records – stood at £110m.

In June, the city council announced a naming-rights partnership with insurance giant Aviva that will reportedly offset around £35m of the cost of delivering the venue. It will see the complex named Aviva Studios, although the name Factory International is likely to remain widely used.

A report to Wednesday’s Executive committee meeting said the income Manchester receives from the naming rights deal would be “applied to the capital financing costs of the project over its life”, however it cautioned that the income “is not guaranteed”.

Factory International’s inaugural event is due to be director Danny Boyle’s “Free Your Mind”, a large-scale immersive performance based on the Matrix films. It is scheduled to run from 18 October to 5 November.

Pawel Paniczko. Factory International 2022, Manchester, UK. Commissioned by Factory International - 29

Source: Pawel Paniczko

Factory International features a 1,600-seat theatre adjoining the so-called warehouse (to the right in the image), a 21m-high, 65m-long and 33m-wide space with a capacity of up to 5,000 people