Manchester’s new arts venue to be named Aviva Studios

The insurance giant has obtained naming rights for the major cultural destination which will open later this year.
The insurance giant has obtained naming rights for the major cultural destination which will open later this year.

Manchester’s new arts and cultural venue is to be named Aviva Studios in a multimillion-pound investment by the insurance giant announced on Tuesday.

The company has agreed a long-term partnership with the city council and Factory International, the organisation that runs Manchester International Festival (MIF) and will operate from the new city centre venue which is set to open later this year on the site of the old Granada Studios.

Neither Aviva nor Manchester City Council have given figures for the firm acquiring the naming rights, but they are reported to be between £24 million and £35 million.

Touted as a global destination for arts, music and culture, it is said to be the largest investment in a national cultural project since the opening of Tate Modern in 2000.

Aviva Studios
Chief executive of Aviva Amanda Blanc (left) and the leader of Manchester City Council, Bev Craig, welcomed the new partnership (Dilantha Dissanayake/PA)

It is hoped the project will add £1.1 billion to the local economy over the next decade and support up to 1,500 direct and indirect jobs, according to consultants.

The venue will host a year-round programme of original creative work, music and special events by some of the world’s leading artists while the Factory Academy at the venue will provide a skills training programme for careers in Manchester’s growing creative industries and a scheme will provide discounted £10 tickets for events.

Amanda Blanc, group chief executive officer for Aviva, said: “Aviva is thrilled to be backing this new, world-class arts building in Manchester.

“The new Aviva Studios will help make arts and culture more accessible and inclusive and follows the significant investment Aviva Investors has already made in Manchester, such as the development of Enterprise City.”

Bev Craig, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Aviva Studios, as the home of Factory International, will be a nationally and internationally important cultural attraction in the heart of Manchester.

“This multi-year, multimillion-pound partnership reflects the magnitude of the venue not just for the city but for the north of England and the UK as a whole.

“This will be a momentous year for the venue as audiences experience its wow factor and enjoy inspiring art in its incredible spaces for the first time.

“The new partnership helps make this possible, as well as supporting Factory International’s ongoing success and work with the community to open up access to the arts and training opportunities.

Sir Nicholas Serota, chairman of Arts Council England, added, “We are delighted at the news of this major support from Aviva to the landmark new home of Factory International, the most significant cultural venue to be built in the UK in recent years.”

Audiences will be able to enjoy the venue during this year’s Manchester International Festival from June 29 to July 16 but the official opening will be in October with the production Free Your Mind, a large-scale immersive performance based on The Matrix films and created by Danny Boyle, Es Devlin, Sabrina Mahfouz and the co-founders of Olivier Award-winning Boy Blue.

The venue, costing around £212m, has been paid for with funding from the Government, the city council and Arts Council England.