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Manchester’s new cultural venue Aviva Studios, the permanent home of Factory International, officially opened today, 18 October.

The 13,350sqm multipurpose event facility opened its doors with the world premiere of Free Your Mind (pictured), a large-scale immersive performance based on The Matrix, designed especially for Aviva Studios. The performance was directed by Danny Boyle, with set design by Es Devlin.

Designed by Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Aviva Studios is the UK’s largest investment in a national cultural project since the opening of Tate Modern in 2000. Located at the heart of the new St John’s neighbourhood, the development is led by Manchester City Council, with backing of £99.05m from HM Government and £7m National Lottery funding from Arts Council England.

The design of the building is based around large, open, flexible spaces that can be constantly reconfigured. The 21-metre-high Warehouse has a capacity for up to 5,000 people standing and can be divided by a movable, full-height acoustic wall.

The venue’s Warehouse and the Hall (cap. 2,000) are able to work together, with the proscenium capable of opening fully into the Warehouse and allowing the stage to run deeper into the building. The design of Aviva Studios has been led by OMA Partner Ellen van Loon and is the practice’s first major public project in the UK.

Programmed and operated by Factory International, the organisation behind Manchester International Festival, Aviva Studios will host a year-round programme of original productions and special events across all art forms.

This year’s programme highlights, announced today, include Robert Wilson and CocoRosie’s adaptation of The Jungle Book; live music performances by Johnny Marr and Gruff Rhys of Suppy Furry Animals; Ivan Blackstock’s dance production TRAPLORD; and new works by Laurie Anderson and Maxine Peake.

Aviva Studios is predicted to add £1.1 billion to the economy of Manchester and the surrounding region over the next decade, creating or supporting up to 1,500 direct and indirect jobs. Aviva Studios will also become a major training centre through the Factory Academy.

The venue has offered 5,000 tickets for Free Your Mind at £10 or less as part of an affordable pricing strategy that will see discounted and Aviva £10 tickets for Manchester communities across its year-round programme.

Factory International artistic director and chief executive John McGrath said, “At every stage in imagining and building this extraordinary space, we have focused on creating new possibilities – for artists to let their imaginations fly, for citizens of Manchester and the world to meet and dream, and for people of all ages and backgrounds to build skills and gain experience.”