The Lowry: a cultural landmark with a remarkable legacy

December 4, 2013

The Lowry, one of our landmark projects in the UK, is still making waves 13 years after it opened on Salford Quays. 'Beyond the Arts', a major new report published by Manchester’s Commission for the New Economy, examines the economic and wider impacts of the arts center and its programmes.

Here are some of its key findings:

  • The Lowry employs over 370 staff and its activities support the equivalent of 533 full-time jobs across the UK, the majority in the north west of England.
  • The Lowry contributes £29m per annum in gross value added to the national economy, corresponding to a total expected contribution of £239m over the coming decade.
  • The Lowry is the most popular visitor destination in Greater Manchester and one of the most popular in the North West, with around 820,000 visitors per year, a total of over 11m since opening in 2000.
  • Around a quarter of its shows are either world or UK premieres and/or international calibre shows only available to audiences in the North West because of the presence of The Lowry.
  • The Lowry has been a cornerstone of the £1.4bn regeneration of Salford Quays – now the new home to the BBC – which has seen the former docks regenerated into one of Greater Manchester’s strongest growing areas in terms of employment, population and households.
  • Only 11.3% of The Lowry’s income comes from public funding – well below the average across regularly-funded arts & cultural institutions of 40% – and the return on this investment is £16.27 for every £1 of public money – higher than national benchmarks for other public sector interventions.


The full report can be downloaded here.

Our involvement on The Lowry project began in 1993 when we provided preliminary development advice on the arts center to the City of Salford, including a feasibility study and design brief. We then worked closely with Michael Wilford and Partners to provide concept design, theatre planning, and theatre equipment design and specification services on the design project.

The Lowry contains a 1,730-seat Lyric Theatre for touring opera, ballet and musicals, the 466-seat adaptable Quays Theatre, the Lowry Galleries (home to the largest public collection of works by Salford’s celebrated painter, LS Lowry), an interactive Artworks Gallery for children, restaurants, and retail outlets.

The Lowry: a cultural landmark with a remarkable legacy
Credit: Len Grant, Courtesy of The Lowry