Contact Theatre revamp gets go-ahead

The refurbishment and extension of young people’s arts venue Contact in Manchester’s Oxford Road has been granted planning permission.

The design by Sheppard Robson will include the overhaul of back of house spaces, including office, training and hire facilities and new-build elements to improve the overall capacity of the venue by around 3,000 sq ft with a three-storey extension.

Contact is contemporary arts venue with a focus on the work of young people. The project aims to improve the capacity and flexibility of the performance and media spaces and redesign the public areas including box-office, bar, café, meeting spaces and young people’s project areas.

The existing structure, which was designed by Alan Short & Associates and completed in 1999, will be fully retained, with additional features including improved lighting and landscaping.

Contact is currently waiting for final confirmation of its £3.85m Arts Council England Capital funding. Fundraising will take place over 2016, working with Contact’s partners including The University of Manchester, Bruntwood and Manchester City Council. Project completion is targeted for spring 2018.

James Jones, associate partner at Sheppard Robson, said: “Corridor Manchester is becoming the scientific, educational and cultural spine of the city. It is important that Contact, with its international reputation, is properly visible in this setting as an organisation uniquely able to bridge these activities, and to provide access for young people and local communities. Our design for Contact seeks to build on the existing building’s distinctive character whilst providing better space for Contact’s artistic programme for years to come.”

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