Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

We like to Put Young People Centre Stage ... ; in the First of a Series Looking Behind the Scenes at the City's Unique Contact Theatre We Hear from Its Chief Executive after a Year in the Job. in the First of a Series Looking Behind the Scenes at the City's Unique Contact Theatre We Hear from Its Chief Executive after a Year in the Job

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

We like to Put Young People Centre Stage ... ; in the First of a Series Looking Behind the Scenes at the City's Unique Contact Theatre We Hear from Its Chief Executive after a Year in the Job. in the First of a Series Looking Behind the Scenes at the City's Unique Contact Theatre We Hear from Its Chief Executive after a Year in the Job

Article excerpt

Matt Fenton is the artistic director and chief executive of Contact Manchester, a leading national arts organisation and charity nurturing the next generation of artists, audiences and creative leaders 'IJOINED Contact as artistic director and chief executive just over a year ago. In that time I've come to realise what an extraordinary venue it is. But it's also clear, when talking to people across the city, that it is often misunderstood or even unknown.

This came as a surprise to me, given Contact's remarkable national reputation in the theatre world.

A lot of people in the city still think of Contact as the University's theatre, which it was until 1999 (we're sited on University land, next to the Academy on Oxford Road).

Other people know us for working with young people, but assume the shows we present are only for teenagers.

So when the M.E.N.

suggested a series of articles to put the spotlight on what we do, we jumped at the chance.

As a theatre, we put on shows, of course.

Contact's stages feature brand new theatre, dance, cabaret, comedy and music, for people of any age. This includes shows made by us and made with other organisations (currently including Southbank Centre and National Theatre of Scotland), alongside outstanding touring shows from the UK and abroad.

Contact shows also go on to tour extensively across the UK and beyond.

But what makes Contact really distinctive is that local young people, aged 13 and upwards, sit at the heart of everything we do.

They play a central decision-making role not only in what's shown on stage, but in every aspect of our activity.

Young people are part of deciding who gets top jobs (including my own), and serve on our Board of Trustees as full voting members.

They make key decisions about the shows we present - informing a programme that's fun, diverse and for audiences of all ages. Week in, week out, young people use our building to develop professional skills in performing, marketing, lighting and set design, music making and DJ-ing. …

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