Former Manchester United sponsorship lead joins the team ahead of the opening of the landmark cultural space in 2023
Former Manchester United sponsorship lead Tom Cunningham has been appointed as Head of Commercial Operations and Partnerships for The Factory as it accelerates its engagement with commercial partners ahead of the opening of the landmark cultural space in Manchester in 2023.
Tom’s remit is to drive meaningful partnerships with brands and local companies that share The Factory’s passion for diversity, sustainability, community and the future of the arts. Partners can sponsor The Factory’s content and programme, its wider community work as well as elements of the building itself.
Operated by the team behind Manchester International Festival (MIF), The Factory will be a global destination for arts, music and culture, commissioning and present a year-round programme of extraordinary, ground-breaking and interdisciplinary work by leading artists. Its development is being led by Manchester City Council, with backing from HM Government and Arts Council England.
Attracting up to 850,000 visitors annually, The Factory will add £1.1 billion to the economy over a decade and create 1,500 direct and indirect jobs. Its pioneering programme of skills, training and engagement will benefit local people and the next generation of creative talent from across the city, whilst apprenticeships and trainee schemes are already underway during the construction phase. Located in the new St John’s neighbourhood next to the River Irwell, The Factory will be at the heart of a burgeoning city centre hub for culture, creativity and digital innovation.
An adopted Mancunian after studying at Manchester Metropolitan University, Tom joins The Factory following ten years at Manchester United, having led on successful partnerships with global brands including DHL, Marriott International, Aon, Singha, Epson, EA Sports and Deezer.
Tom Bloxham, MBE, Chair of the Board for MIF & The Factory said: “Tom brings with him a wealth of experience working with some of the most forward-thinking and innovative brands in the world. Both his global perspective and ambition matches ours perfectly, and he is already making a significant difference to our commercial efforts. This is a key strategic appointment for us.”
Tom Cunningham said: “I’m delighted to take up this role at such an exciting time for The Factory. Our offer to partners is simple: we want to invent a better tomorrow together. We’re looking for partners that want to make a real difference and go on a journey with us. They might want to affect positive change around diversity, sustainability or social mobility – and combine that with supporting world-class arts, music and culture.
“We are reimagining the impact that commercial partnerships can have on the world around us, and I am keen to speak with brands or individuals on that basis.”
Tom’s appointment adds to the existing expertise in the MIF team as it prepares for The Factory, including Executive Director Randel Bryan, whose background includes Endemol Shine and Discovery Education, Venue Director Sheena Wrigley, who joined in September 2021 bringing years of experience in theatre and the cultural sector; and recent hire Creative Director Low Kee Hong, who has a wealth of experience curating festivals and venues internationally.