Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Factory begins to take shape

Manchester  Graffiti
Photo Mike Colvin
Source Wikipeda
Creative Commons Licence

In his Autumn statement last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised a £78 million investment in a new arts centre in Manchester to be called "The Factory". I picked it up in my article  Let's bring the Royal Ballet to The Factory Manchester 11 Dec 2015. The Chancellor, whose constituency is in the Manchester city region, repeated his promise yesterday (see George Osborne’s Autumn Statement speech in full 25 Nov 2015 Financial Times).

The Autumn statement coincided with press reports of the appointment of the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to design the Factory (see Rem Koolhaas wins Factory design project as Manchester goes Dutch 25 Nov 2015 The Guardian, The Factory: CGIs of Manchester's multi-million pound culture hub  released 25 Nov 2015 Manchester Evening News and OMA wins competition to design huge Manchester arts venue The Factory 25 Nov 2014 De Zeen). Work is to start on the site next year and the building should be finished by 2019.

When completed the Factory will host the Manchester International Festival which featured artists from the Paris Opera Ballet in Wayne McGregor's Tree of Codes this year. Next year it will première Akram Khan's Giselle for English National Ballet. Manchester which is visited regularly by the Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and Northern Ballet as well as smaller companies is probably the biggest audience for dance outside London.

So we now have an audience for dance and we will soon have a major venue for the performing arts in the city. All we need now is a major resident company. As I hinted last year we would welcome the Royal Ballet and Royal Ballet with open arms if it wanted to resume the negotiations for a Northern home which were terminated by the change of government last year.

Or we could build out own. Some of the building blocks are here. We have the Northern Ballet School in Oxford Road which already has its own performing company known as Manchester City Ballet. It will perform Giselle at The Dancehouse between 10 and 12 Dec 2015.  There is also the Centre for Advanced Training in Dance at The Lowry. All we need is to commitment and money.

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