Factory International announces some of the Greater Manchester artists benefitting from a selection of major grants and development opportunities, and premieres a new film at Aviva Studios centring young Black artists from across the region, as it looks to empower the next generation of creatives in the city.

Focused on creating opportunities for artists from the North of England, particularly those most underrepresented in the sector, Factory International initiatives support artists to develop work at scale, to be interdisciplinary and support the development of new international networks to export talent from the region.

Factory International is continuing to develop a range of programmes for the many creative communities in Manchester and the North, with new initiatives to be announced later in the year.

Following an open call to all artists in the North ready to scale-up their practice, two Manchester-based artist collectives have been selected to take over the vast warehouse space of the city’s landmark new cultural venue, Aviva Studios this summer. The artists will be offered financial support of up to £10,000 to explore and realise their idea as well as dedicated guidance from industry experts within the Factory International team.

Jennifer Jackson, an accomplished Latinx Anglo-Bolivian artist who gained acclaim for her sports-based performance work, ENDURANCE, collaborates with established co-lead artists Rosie Elnile and Craig McCorquodale for the first Artist Takeover.

This new collaboration will experiment with malleable materials like clay to transform Aviva Studios into a mock Roman gladiatorial arena. The trio hopes to bring together 100 professional and non-professional performers including: wrestlers, marching bands and a male choir for this live art experiment.

A collective of Black multidisciplinary artists from Manchester and the North West, have been selected for Factory Internationals second Artist Takeover. 54: Manchester made up of Joshua Inyang and Joshua Tarelle (Space Afrika), Tibyan Mahawah Sanoh, and Jaqhira Henry plan to create an immersive audio-visual installationinvestigating the interconnections of their heritage and culture. Using archive film materials, sound and material design, the collective hope to present a contemporary and authentic representation of the Black British experience in the North West.

Jennifer Jackson, Rosie Elnile and Craig McCorquodale said, “We are thrilled to be Factory International’s first Artist Takeover collective. The initiative marks a critical intervention into performance in the UK, by pushing genre-defying, non-narrative, radical work into large stages.”

The artist collective 54 said, “The chance to begin this collaboration in our home town is a blessing and we look forward to developing an immersive installation at Aviva Studios this summer, encapsulating the interconnections of our cultures and specifically the Northern Black British experience.”


In March Factory International presents the premiere of Reframe: The Director’s Cut at Aviva Studios, a new film centring the artistic responses of 77 young Black and Black Mixed heritage creatives from Manchester, Birmingham and London in response to the climate emergency.

The new film features work originally created for the audio-visual installation inspired by Planet Summer at London’s Southbank Centre in summer 2023. The work was created as part of Reframe: The Residency, an initiative supported by Apple empowering the next generation of Black creatives in the UK – produced by the Southbank Centre with Factory International, Birmingham City University’s STEAMhouse and Midlands Arts Centre.

Accompanying the film at Aviva Studios is an exhibition of the photography created as part of the original installation in London (6-10 March, free, drop-in).


Factory International has selected six Fellows based in the North with a variety of artistic practices and all at a transitional stage in their career, to go behind-the-scenes during the creation of some of the large-scale productions taking place at Aviva Studios this year. As part of the Fellowship programme, Elkanah Wilder, Flematu Sessay, Gemma Lees, Maya Chowdry, Seren Marimba, and Tommy Ryoma Hannaway will have exclusive access to Factory International commissions and creative teams and develop their practice through mentoring, observational placements, and peer-to-peer learning.

Factory International have offered Creative Fellowships for Greater Manchester-based artists every two years since MIF17, with the 2017 and 2019 cohort of Fellows supported by Jerwood Arts. The beneficiaries who work as comedians, theatre-makers, dancers, musicians, photographers and more, have gone on to exhibit and perform across the UK, take up artist residencies overseas, be featured in national press, and secure artistic commissions from major funders including Sky Arts, BBC Arts, BFI, Arts Council England, British Council and the Princes’ Trust.


Successful applicants will soon be announced for Factory International’s 2024 ‘Factory Sounds’ programme which provides financial support, networking opportunities and profile to creatives involved in Greater Manchester’s music scene. In 2023 eleven Factory Sounds musicians, DJs and label owners were supported to create new projects and invited to perform during MIF23.

First developed in 2021 to provide financial support to musicians in the pandemic, alumni include: melodic post-punk band Loose Articles; rapper and vocalist OneDa; synth-folk artist Test Card Girl; and DJ and co-owner of record label Swing Ting, Balraj Singh.


Factory International has selected eight fiction writers based in the North with less than three published stories to their name to respond to some of the themes of John Bowen’s cult horror classic Robin Redbreast on which the upcoming adaptation by Maxine Peake, Sarah Frankcom and Imogen Knight at Aviva Studios is based. The successful writers will be paid for their flash fiction entries and published on Factory International’s online content platform Factory+ and offered the opportunity to do a reading of their work at an event at Aviva Studios.

As well as supporting up-and-coming and emerging artists, Factory International also presents new work from some of the North West’s most established names including: a brand-new stage production by Maxine Peake, Sarah Frankcom and Imogen Knight (Robin/Red/Breast, 17-26 May) and a screening of their chilling MIF23 adaptation of Kay Dick’s trailblazing novel They (8 March); a specially commissioned programme of work celebrating acclaimed Manchester-based artist David Hoyle (Please Feel Free To Ignore My Work, 10 – 28 April); and three nights of runway performances showcasing the city’s underground clubland and nu-wave cabaret scene curated by the infamous vogue artist and choreographer Darren Pritchard and long-time collaborator Rikki Beadle-Blair (House of MCR, 20-22 June).

Local artists such as the poet Isaiah Hull and acoustic folk band The Breath have also been paired with global names within Factory International’s music programme including Grammy Award winning Sampha and the Paraorchestra, the world’s only large-scale virtuoso ensemble of professional disabled and non-disabled musicians.

Kee Hong Low, Creative Director of Factory International said,

“At Factory International we create spaces for artists to do extraordinary things, things they always dreamed of doing, things they might not be able to do anywhere else. It’s so exciting to see the range of artistry from the North supported by Factory International initiatives this year and I can’t wait to see all these brilliant artists take their practice to the next level.”

Sarah Maxfield, Area Director North, Arts Council England said

“We want the North to be a place where artists can live, work and forge a career so I’m really pleased to see these initiatives from Factory International providing invaluable experience and opportunities for Northern artists. And with Factory Sounds, the Factory International Fellows and opportunities for writers, it’s great to see that Factory International is prioritising skills development and supporting emerging artists in the North. Aviva Studios has already staged some fantastic ground-breaking work since it opened last year and I’m sure that the artist collectives will rise to the challenge this summer.”

Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Deputy Leader Manchester City Council, said:

“Culture and the arts play an important part in both the life and the economy of Manchester and are what help make the city such a great place to be. Supporting artists and others working in the creative sector to help them develop their skills and hone their craft is a key priority for us. It’s brilliant therefore to see the new opportunities that are being created through Factory International and the opening of Aviva Studios – opportunities that are already making a real difference, helping to inspire creativity and nurturing careers in the arts.”


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