Contact Theatre

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Contact Theatre 2009.jpg
Address Manchester
Type Theatre
Capacity Space 1: 320 seats
Space 2: 80 seats
Opened 1972
Architect Alan Short

Contact is a multi-disciplinary arts venue in Manchester, England. Originally a traditional theatre, Contact was rebranded in 1999 as a space specialising in producing work and providing opportunities for young people.


Contact was founded in 1972 by Barry Sheppard (General Manager of what was then Manchester University Theatre) and Hugh Hunt (Professor of Drama), as Manchester Young People's Theatre as part of the University of Manchester. Following a £5 million investment from Arts Council England, Contact was reopened in 1999 as an arts venue for young people. It is funded by Arts Council England, the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, Manchester City Council and the University of Manchester, but it is independently run. Diversifying its work away from traditional theatre, Contact's remit now covers dance, music, poetry, spoken word, hip hop and art. Its programme includes touring work and in-house productions, co-productions and collaborations developed with Key Partner Companies and young people.

Contact is a registered charity.

Artistic Directors[edit]

  • John McGrath 1999–2008
  • Baba Israel 2009–2012
  • Matt Fenton 2013-current


  • Stirling Royal Institute of British Architects Building Of The Year (1999)
  • Arts Council Breakthrough Award: In Recognition of the Pioneering work achieved with Young People
  • TMA Eclipse Award for Cultural Diversity
  • Arts Council England Art04 Outstanding Achievement Award
  • Arts Council England Art07 Rising Star
  • TMA Award for Diversity 2013
  • Co-operative RESPECT Inclusive Venue of the Year 2013
  • Lever Prize Winner 2014


Contact's distinctive building was designed by architect Alan Short and Associates as part of the venue's 1999 redesign. Arts Council England put up £4.5 million toward the building with the money being matched by English Partnerships and land donated from The University of Manchester. It is located on Devas Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, near the university's departments of education and drama. The main 320-seat auditorium (Space 1) was refitted and an 80-seat studio (Space 2) was added in the newly built turret.

The nine huge stacks crowned with H-shaped chimney pots assist with the building's natural ventilation.

Current workshops[edit]

Alongside its artistic programme Contact runs a number of other regular workshops.

  • Contact Young Company (CYC) (formerly known as Contact Young Actors Company (CYAC))

An in-house company of young people aged 15 to 25, CYC puts on three productions a year, each directed by a guest director or company. Auditions are held three times a year with members rotating out after one year.

  • Technique

Runs parallel to CYAC teaching young people aged 15 to 25 the skills used backstage at the theatre including lighting, sound, and stage production.

  • Monday Drop & Media Drop

Weekly workshops allowing DJs, MCs, actors and poets aged 13 to 19 to learn about different performance styles and techniques; explore creative writing and develop physical performance skills.

Contacting The World[edit]

Since 2002 Contact has hosted Contacting The World, a biannual international project which brings together young people from around the world to create new theatre. Twinning companies so they can collaborate, exchange members and share ideas Contacting The World culminates in a Festival Week in July.

Contacting The World has featured companies from Malaysia, Trinidad, Nigeria, Rwanda, Palestine, Brazil, Poland, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Jordan, Bangladesh, Syria, Iran, South Africa, New Zealand, The Philippines, Nepal, Zambia, Germany, Turkey, the UK and USA.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°27′47″N 2°13′55″W / 53.46306°N 2.23194°W / 53.46306; -2.23194