Arts Council England has confirmed funding of £3.85million towards Contact’s capital refurbishment, a £6.5million project to transform the landmark building for the next generation of audiences, artists and young people.

The refurbishment of the unique building will create new performance and community spaces, expand the café bar, and reorganise the public spaces to improve navigation of the building. There will be new facilities for young people’s talent and leadership activity, and improved access for those with disabilities and access requirements. The technical and digital infrastructure will be replenished, and the environmental performance of the naturally-ventilated building will be improved, consolidating Contact’s position as one of the leading sustainable theatres in the UK. The Contact building is anticipated to close in April 2017, with the artistic programme and young people’s participatory activity continuing across Manchester during a year operating outside of the building.

The Garfield Weston, Foyle and Granada Foundations have already pledged generous funding support for the capital project, with Bruntwood and The University of Manchester further supporting project development. The confirmation of Arts Council England funding marks a significant milestone for the project and a terrific boost for the fundraising campaign which will gear up significantly over the coming months.

Contact is the leading arts organisation placing young people’s decision-making and leadership at the heart of everything. Young people have been central to the capital project, conducting interview panels for architects, giving tours to stakeholders and taking part in a series of consultations around plans for the new building. Contact is recruiting two groups of young people to play a crucial role in the development. Re:CON, Contact’s young programmers and producers, and I:CON, Contact’s young marketers, will have a specific focus on this next exciting phase of Contact’s history, helping to decide the events programme for the year out, and informing communications around the capital project, branding and website development.

Matt Fenton, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Contact, said:
‘We’re absolutely delighted with this news. The refurbished building will greatly improve provision for our fast-growing participation programmes, and cement Contact’s role as a national centre of excellence for the development of young people’s talent and leadership, serving young people from all wards of the city. The revitalised Contact will provide an enriched environment for audiences of all ages to experience our innovative and diverse public events programme, whilst the year out of the building will offer fantastic opportunities to experience the quality and breadth of Contact productions across Greater Manchester.’

Contact – image courtesy of Joel Chester Fildes