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Manchester’s Contact to launch venue focused on health impacts of theatre

Contact, Manchester. Photo: Joel Chester Fildes Contact, Manchester. Photo: Joel Chester Fildes
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Contact Theatre in Manchester has been given £600,000 grant to develop a new venue dedicated to investigating theatre’s impact on health and well-being.

The organisation, which makes work for young people, has been awarded the funding from charitable foundation Wellcome to create a 110-seat space that will serve as a development studio but also host public performances.

The money will support a new ground-floor venue at Contact that will explore the health and well-being issues affecting young people and local communities. This in turn will inform future theatre productions and arts and well-being projects.

It forms part of a £6.5 million redevelopment of Contact, taking place in 2018-19, which will expand its current premises to include a new cabaret stage and recording studio for young people, as well as improve its three existing performance spaces and improve access.

The Wellcome-funded project will build on the Contact’s existing health and well-being work, which uses theatre to respond to challenges such as pregnancy and abortion, cancer care and female genital mutilation.

Contact will also recruit a dedicated health and science producer to manage the Wellcome programme. The role will help foster relationships between young people and scientists, researchers and artists to create new shows, debates and discussions.

Contact artistic director and chief executive Matt Fenton said: “This new space within our expanded building will bring a whole new dimension to this, just as Manchester is rethinking its health and social care in the light of devolution.

“As a professional theatre on the doorstep of NHS hospitals, university departments, Manchester Science Park and diverse local communities, Contact is the perfect location to bring together health workers, researchers, artists and young people.”

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