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Contact theatre reopens following £6million transformation

The UK’s leading theatre and arts venue with young people at its heart will reopen this month for the first time since December 2017

Contact, the UK’s leading theatre and arts venue with young people at its heart, will reopen its doors to the public this month for the first time since December 2017 following a major building redevelopment and the challenges of a global pandemic.

The theatre will return to its Oxford Road venue with a vibrant reopening programme to support the next generation of audiences, artists and young people.

This next stage in the building’s evolution sees Contact return with new and improved performance spaces; a purpose-built recording studio for young people’s music projects; a unique health and science development space created in partnership with Wellcome Trust; new offices for artists and cultural organisations to hire and work alongside Contact staff; a new and improved public bar; free work and social spaces; a new partnership with Manchester’s Indian street food heroes, Chaat Cart, and many other exciting new features.

Photo: Joyce Nicholls

“We are overjoyed to be reopening Contact to the public after two years of building works, and the challenges of the global pandemic,” said Matt Fenton from Contact.

“It feels right that our first show is from Contact Young Company.

“We believe young people deserve the very best resources to create and imagine, and over the last year our new building has been full of early career artists making use of our brilliant new spaces.

“We have also renewed our vision and mission to reflect the new reality facing our communities, and to ensure all young people are empowered by the arts and creativity.”

Contact’s performance programme kicks off in October with Contact Young Company’s Everything All of the Time, directed by Contact’s artistic director, Matt Fenton.

Everything All of the Time is a physical and visual journey through a new world, squashed into an hour of hedonism, love, anger, nostalgia and hope.

Photo: Dom Varden

Contact and Black Gold Arts will come together during Black History Month to deliver a line-up of outstanding Black-led art, performance and film, featuring the live world premiere of mandla rae’s ‘as british as a watermelon’, and films from Chanje Kunda and Mele Broomes.

Commissioned by Contact and Re:Con (Contact Young Producer’s), ERGON Theatre present The Wicked Problem, where audiences act as the jury in the world’s first ecocide trial.

Mika Onyx-Johnson’s Pink Lemonade combines original beats, poetry and movement in an explosive autobiographical journey of sexuality, identity and self-discovery.

Dibby Theatre and HIV+ theatre-maker Nathaniel Hall – star of hit Channel 4 series It’s a Sin – present First Time, an award-winning, hilarious and heart-breaking autobiographical show about growing up positive in a negative world.

The Black Pride Manchester Vogue Ball presented by Contact and House of Ghetto will be hosted in December by Rikki Beadle-Blair, featuring the fiercest QTIBIPoC vogue houses in the North at legendary Manchester venue Gorilla.

And Contact will be home to Dick Whittington and his Cat, Eight-Freestyle’s modern, upbeat telling of the classic rags-to-riches story, amongst other pieces.

Photo: Lee Baxter

The project has been funded thanks to a £3.85million investment from Arts Council England plus generous grants from other supporters, trusts and foundations.

Nathaniel Hall (It’s A Sin), theatre-maker, HIV activist and creator of First Time, said: “Contact is where my journey as an artist really began.

“Their Young Company nurtured my talent and having access to the diverse creatives with a passion for community-led arts that inhabit the building made me into the artist I am today.

“I am over the moon that Dibby Theatre are bringing the autumn tour of First Time to a close on one of my favourite stages in Manchester alongside a whole host of exciting wrap-around events, talks, film screenings and parties.”

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