Manchester’s Contact theatre to close for huge renovation

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By Megan James
Photograph: Joel Chester Fildes

The iconic Contact Theatre will be closing its doors by the end of December 2017 for a major £6.75 million renovation, but its performances will continue at various locations across the city of Manchester.

James Ducker, Marketing and Communications Canager at Contact explained, “For the full building refurbishment we’re looking at access, visitor experience, but then also creating new space for us to work with artists, and performers to develop work as well. The big difference downstairs we’ll see a reconfiguring of the ground floor.”

The renovation is partly funded by Wellcome Trust, with the charitable organisation donating £600,000 for an extension on the side of the building.

Ducker said, “That’s basically looking really at health and well-being and how we produce work around that. We will also have a new member of staff who will be a health and science producer.”

During the renovation the theatres staff will relocate to the Millennium Powerhouse Youth Centre in Moss Side, which will also host some of Contacts year-long free participatory activities, in order to increase the amount of young people making use of the free services.

Paul Fletcher, Chief Executive at Manchester Young Lives said, “Manchester Young Lives is delighted to welcome Contact to the Powerhouse; this will open up opportunities for talented young people in Moss Side and surrounding neighbourhoods to engage with the arts.”

Other performing arts institutions such as The Lowry in Salford, The Palace theatre on Oxford Road and The museum of Science industry on Liverpool Road, have all partnered up with Contact to hold a range of different shows by the company.

The theatre will also be travelling to new locations such as Alankar a running saree shop in the heart of the curry mile, for a site specific performance named Hand Looms, written by Rani Moorthy and directed by Alan Lane of Slung Low productions.

The intimate performance will explore the generational differences between mother and son, when deciding whether to run their business traditionally or to follow a more lucrative modern route.

Ducker added, “It’s a really great opportunity for us to get into venues that we’ve not worked in before and work with different creative teams in the city. Also to tap into different audiences, so hopefully we’ll take our audience with us but also we will gain others from the different venues, and then once we’re open hopefully they’ll make the journey up to Oxford Road to come and see us.”

Contact Theatre is due to open around March 2019, with the performance season aiming to start in Autumn of that year.

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