Contact Theatre

Contact Theatre is a vibrant professional theatre and arts venue in Manchester.

Children dancing

Contact produces work with, and for, young people aged 13–30 years. Their touring and digital activity reaches many more across the UK and internationally. Young people are at the very heart of the organisation, including its decision making and leadership. Contact works hard to reach marginalised and underrepresented audiences.  

Contact was established in 1972 and has been in the same building ever since. The venue underwent an award-winning redevelopment in the early 2000s. This helped the ambitious organisation to grow its activity and audiences. Within three years, the number of young participants more than doubled to over 16,000 people a year! In 2016, it was clear that Contact’s building was struggling to cope with increasing numbers. The infrastructure was outdated and this limited the quality of work the organisation could deliver. 

Contact’s solution was a major redevelopment of its building. They wanted to create a range of new facilities including:

  • new performance spaces and technical infrastructure 
  • a new media lounge to involve young people in music and media production 
  • new public areas
  • a café 
  • office spaces available for hire by small arts organisations 

The redeveloped building would help Contact to work with larger numbers of young people and the local community. It would also increase the organisation’s earned income from box office, external hires and catering. This would decrease its reliance on public funding. Environmental sustainability was a key element of Contact’s plans. Today Contact is one of the top environmentally friendly businesses in the north west.  

Support from the Garfield Weston Foundation was key to getting our fundraising campaign off to a positive start. The Foundation was one of the first to pledge support at a time when the target presented us with a daunting challenge. They were instrumental in helping us build trust with other funders and to raise the funds we needed.

We appreciated the thorough business plans that accompanied Contact’s capital project. They had worked hard to develop relationships with local organisations, including Manchester University and local corporate supporters. Contact had already applied to the Arts Council for over half the project costs and had secured a grant from a local business. We knew the huge difference its redeveloped facilities would make to their beneficiaries and were delighted to make an early pledge to encourage other funders to support Contact.  

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Contact’s plans were delayed but the redeveloped building opened in September 2021. We were impressed with the progress Contact had made despite the pandemic. And were happy to make a further grant to help the organisation reopen and re-engage audiences after Covid lockdowns. 

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