Contact Theatre

Manchester’s Contact Theatre to close in April for refurbishment

  • Contact theatre, a charity-run venue specialising in the arts and creativity for young people, is set for a multi-million-pound refurbishment beginning in April

  • The Theatre has put young local people at the core of the decision-making process in the refurbishment.

Back in May 2016, Manchester City Council granted plans for the refurbishment of Capitals Contact theatre. Shortly after fundraising began, Arts Council England confirmed funding of £3.9m towards Contacts refurbishment. The refurbishment will cost £6.5million in total to transform the landmark building on Oxford Road and works plan to start in April 2017.

Contact theatre is a charity-run venue that specialises in the arts and creativity for young people. The refurbishment plans to create new spaces for both the performance and community for young people. The theatre currently contains three performance and rehearsal facilities, however plans include building a new studio space. There will be a café expansion, the public spaces within the theatre will be reorganised and there will be improved layout and facilities. As well at this, there will also be better access for those with disabilities and a new front of house and office facilities that will feature as part of the project.

As well as the Arts Council England supplying a large amount of funding for this project, generous funding has also been pledged by The Garfield Weston, Foyle and Granada Foundations. Other project sponsors include The University of Manchester, The Wolfson Foundation and Bruntwood.

Whilst the Contact theatre is closed in April for refurbishment, the artistic programme that would usually run at the theatre will continue across Manchester during the year of closure of the building.

Ever since Contact was rebranded in 1999, the core values of the theatre have been that young people are the centred approach to decision making, artistic excellence, respect for a diversity of cultures, development of new artists, audiences and practitioners. The refurbishment will help to ensure that all these values will continue to be met and exceeded to high standards. The project is set to improve Contacts role for training and the development of future talent.

Contact Theatre are committed to foster young creative minds and for this reason, they have included two groups of young people to play a key role in the development. Young people have been at the core of the decision-making process, running interview panels with architects and giving tours to stakeholders who are participating in the refurbishment.

Rose Hiles, project co-ordinator said: “This project has been really exciting to be involved with and it is great to see how many people and organisations wanted to get involved.

"Quickly after working up design plans we launched fundraising for the £6.2m project and it is humbling to see how quickly it has all come into place and everyone involved is excited to see the great change this will make to the theatre for young people.

“Contact theatre is completely dedicated to young people which is why we ensured that a lot of the decision making process to do with this project has them involved.”

With the highly anticipated refurbishment to take place in just a few weeks, completion of Contact theatre is to be expected by spring 2018.