Friday, 13 January 2017

Factory to go ahead

St John's Gardens
Author: R Lee
Source Wikipedia
Creative Commons Licence

Ever since George Osborne MP delivered his Autumn Statement for 2014 I have been beating the drum for the Factory arts and cultural centre as a centre for dance in Manchester (see Let's bring the Royal Ballet to The Factory Manchester 11 Dec 2014, The Factory begins to take shape 26 Nov 2015 and Thanks George 8 Dec 2015). Yesterday, Manchester International Festival ("MIF") announced that it had obtained planning permission to build the arts complex as part of the redevelopment of the St John's district of Manchester (see MIF announced as operator for Factory).

According to the Festival's website:
"MIF will be the operator for Factory, creating a year-round programme of work and running the building, which is due to open 2020. Factory will give audiences the opportunity to enjoy the broadest range of art forms and cultural experiences – including dance, theatre, music, opera, visual arts, spoken word, popular culture and innovative contemporary work incorporating multiple media and technologies"
MIF has commissioned dance before.   In 2015 it commissioned Wayne McGregor's Tree of Codes which was premiered at the Manchester Opera House on 3 July 2015 and is to be performed this year at the Palais Garnier, the Musikhuset in Aarhus and Sadler's Wells. Last year it facilitated Akram Khan's Giselle which the MIF's artistic director described as “an example of the sort of collaboration we can expect to find at The Factory” (see Verity Williams MIF’s Giselle at The Palace Theatre, preview: Dancing to a different tune 15 Dec 2016

While I was not exactly bowled over by Akram Khan's Giselle I applaud MIF's commitment to dance. Now that we shall have a 1,600 seat auditorium for Manchester there is no reason why the second city of the UK should not host its own world class resident ballet company. Ideally, I should like to revive plans for a Northern home for the Royal Ballet which the last Labour government had proposed.  If that is not possible we may have to build one ourselves from the ground up. We shall see.

Meanwhile, if anyone wants some idea as to how the Factory will look there is a great article about the Factory with some good pictures on the BBC website (see Designs approved for Manchester's £110m Factory arts venue 12 Jan 2017).

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