The opening plans for Factory International, Manchester’s new landmark cultural space which will welcome its first visitors in June 2023, have now been revealed. Programmed and operated by the team behind the world-famous Manchester International Festival (MIF), Factory International will be a global destination for arts, music and culture, commissioning and presenting a year-round programme by leading artists from across the world.
Factory International, located in the new St John’s neighbourhood on the site of the former Granada Studios next to the River Irwell and designed by Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), is the largest investment in a national cultural project since the opening of Tate Modern in 2000. Set to open the new arts, music and cultural centre will be Free Your Mind, a large-scale immersive performance based on The Matrix films presented across the building’s ultra-flexible spaces.
This dramatic retelling through dance, music and visual effects will bring together the visceral movement of choreographer Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy MBE with a powerful score from renowned composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante MBE (co-founders and artistic directors of the Olivier award-winning Boy Blue), world-leading designer Es Devlin’s large-scale stage sculptures and the work of the acclaimed writer Sabrina Mahfouz – directed by Danny Boyle. Using spectacular visual effects, a cast of professional dancers and hundreds of Manchester participants will recreate some of the film’s most iconic scenes, provoking visions of an alternative future.
Before the official opening, the new venue will form the centrepiece of the 2023 Manchester International Festival (which will return across the city from June 29 to July 16) with a major exhibition in its main warehouse space. You, Me and the Balloons celebrates three decades of Yayoi Kusama’s spectacular inflatable sculptures, shown together for the first time.
Created specially for Factory International, this will be the renowned Japanese contemporary artist’s largest ever immersive environment, featuring works that are over ten metres tall – including giant dolls, spectacular tendrilled landscapes and a vast constellation of polka-dot spheres. One of Yayoi Kusama‘s most recent (and Instagrammable) attraction is the artist’s dazzling infinity rooms at London’s Tate Modern, alongside the Obliteration Room where visitors decorate a blank white apartment with colourful dots.
Following Free Your Mind, a wide range of music, circus, art and fashion will fill the building and its outdoor spaces during The Welcome, a nine-day programme developed by Greater Manchester residents. Building on Manchester International Festival’s strong history of working with local people to choose and programme artists and events, The Welcome is an invitation from Greater Manchester residents to their neighbours – to meet, learn, and play in the extraordinary new cultural space opening in the heart of their city.
Ahead of opening, artist Luke Jerram will celebrate the births of hundreds of babies born locally with a spectacular installation outside the building which will cast beams of light into the sky to represent new births. Each of the families with babies born in January will receive lifetime membership to Factory International – providing priority booking, discounted tickets and exclusive invitations.
Reflecting Factory International’s commitment to ensuring access to the widest possible audiences, 5,000 tickets will be available for Free Your Mind at £10 or less as part of an affordable pricing strategy that will see discounted tickets for Manchester communities across its year-round programme. Find out more about Factory International arriving in Manchester here.
Factory International, Water Street, Manchester, M3 4JQ