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Aviva! Factory International announce controversial new name

Factory International have changed their name to Aviva Studios after they agree a £35m sponsorship deal.

Many users took to Twitter as the news was announced yesterday (Tuesday 20th June) to share their opinions on the change of name.

Aviva Studios

Aviva has purchased the naming rights to Factory International for an eye-watering £35m.

Punters took to Twitter to share their opinions that such a cutting-edge arts venue is going to have such a corporate-sounding name:

While others, including iconic Manchester Poet and Author Lemn Sissay, said they liked the name, proclaiming ‘VIVA AVIVA!’

The decision, made by the partnership behind Factory International, has drawn some criticism from locals who were attached to the original name and are concerned about the erasure of the city’s cultural heritage.

The newly christened Aviva Studios will serve as the year-round home of the highly anticipated Manchester International Festival.


How much will Factory International inject into Manchester’s economy?

Notably, the insurance, wealth, and retirement firm, Aviva, predicts that this venue will inject a staggering £1.1 billion into Manchester’s economy.

Aviva’s substantial investment in the building has made Aviva Studios a reality, thanks to a collaboration with Factory International and Manchester City Council.

Despite the controversy surrounding its budget  (overrun by a cool £100m), Aviva Stuios is set to become a nationally and internationally significant cultural attraction.

The venue aims to entice visitors from far and wide, offering a vibrant and diverse arts and cultural experience.

With Aviva’s financial backing, the venue is expected to create up to 1,500 direct and indirect jobs, while also providing training and engagement opportunities for the local community.

This ambitious project has garnered attention due to its colossal scale.

How is Factory International being funded?

After receiving a generous £106 million in public funding from HM Government and Arts Council England, Aviva Studios represents the largest investment in a cultural endeavour since the Tate Modern in 2000.

Both Aviva, Manchester residents and Manchester City Council are eagerly anticipating the positive impact that this project will have on the city’s cultural landscape.

Amanda Blanc, Aviva’s Group Chief Executive Officer, expressed her excitement about the company’s involvement.

She stated, “Aviva is thrilled to be supporting this new, world-class arts building in Manchester.

“It builds on Aviva’s leading role in the UK, serving over 15 million customers, employing 16,000 people, and investing billions each year into the UK’s regional economy.”

Blanc further emphasised that Aviva Studios aims to promote accessibility and inclusivity within the arts and culture sector. This new venture aligns with Aviva’s broader commitment to Manchester, as demonstrated by its significant investment in projects such as the development of Enterprise City.

Manchester city council went down the naming rights path because of rising costs. The building’s original budget in 2017 was £110m.

By 2020, Covid-19 played a big part in the budget rising to £186m and last year it was revealed that the figure was now £210.8m.

Councillors had to approve a budget increase of £25.2m, with the caveat that there was “scope for the council to recover a significant proportion of these capital costs through a long-term naming rights agreement for Factory International.”

Partnership with Manchester City Council

Bev Craig

The city council leader, Bev Craig, said the council had been very selective on who it would do business with.

“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, multi-million-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.

“It has undoubtedly been a challenge to create this remarkable building with its unique design against a difficult construction context, including rocketing inflation, without diluting the ambitious vision behind it.

“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.

“The council will receive the largest share of funding, supporting our up-front investment in the venue and the wider St John’s neighbourhood, as well as adding social value.

“Aviva has the credentials to be an ideal partner. We are looking forward to collaborating with them on this amazing venue and welcome the expansion of their existing commitment to Manchester.”

When will Factory International open?

It will officially open in October with an immersive Matrix films-themed dance, music and visual effects experience directed by Danny Boyle.

Before then it will in July and August host a Yayoi Kusama exhibition as part of this summer’s Manchester international festival.

What do you think of the name change? Let us know in the comments.

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