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Factory International, the organisation behind Manchester International Festival and the city’s new flagship venue, Aviva Studios, has announced its latest free skills, training and education opportunities for people from Manchester delivered through its Factory Academy programme and partnerships with local schools.

The Factory Academy delivers free courses to local people and provides opportunities for training, enrichment and careers in Manchester’s creative industries. With the official opening of the 13,350sqm venue Aviva Studios next month, following its preview during MIF23 this summer, the new venue will provide further opportunities for local people.

A new Stage Management course starting this week will allow participants to learn from Factory International’s in-house production team to gain an insight into the backstage world of the live events industry. Two students will go on to secure living-wage paid stage production assistant roles, where they will help to bring Factory International’s official opening show, the Matrix-inspired Free Your Mind to the venue in October. Upcoming courses in October include Managing Creative Projects, Broadcast and Film and Foundations in Freelance.

Factory International is also supporting local people through a new partnership programme with schools across Manchester. Starting next week, it will provide 200 students from several schools with free artist-led creative sessions designed in line with the National Curriculum to boost arts access for young people and provide early insights into creative careers, combining weekly artist-led sessions, guest workshops from artists such as Boy Blue which is co-creating the opening show of Aviva Studios, and trips to the venue.

Since launching in 2018, Factory Academy has supported over 650 local people through its free training programmes and aims to support 1,500 people by 2025 as part of a five-year plan to create more accessible pathways into creative careers. Courses are targeted at people who are under-represented in the sector, who are unemployed, on Universal Credit or are earning less than £20,888 to apply for the fully funded programmes, which include free training courses.

Factory International’s development is led by Manchester City Council, with backing of £99.05m from HM Government and £7m National Lottery funding from Arts Council England.

Factory International executive director Randel Bryan said, “As we prepare to move into our new home, this marks an exciting new chapter where for the first time we’ll have a world class cultural venue that will provide an unparalleled learning and development environment, where local people can develop their skills and confidence alongside industry leading professionals at the top of their field.”