Contact’s 50th year will celebrate alumni, audiences, artists, staff and the local community through 50 weeks of actions with inclusion, sustainability and affordability at its heart. Contact will also share its vision for the future through launching new fundraising initiatives across corporate partners and public donations, ensuring our legacy for another 50 years.
Lemn Sissay, Poet and University of Manchester’s Chancellor is a Contact alumnus: “The recent appointment of Keisha Thompson as Artistic Director/CEO feels like a celebratory gift for Contact’s 50th Anniversary year. Like Contact, it is a gift for Manchester, the North, and the country. We are homegrown, our roots are in the earth of Manchester, our branches contacting the world and our seeds float in the summer air, taking root in all the unexpected places. Contact does what its name implies. All theories about drama, art and community, be it local, national or international, mean nothing without actual contact. I love the place. I have seen the work, the lives it has changed, the careers it has made, the love it generates… the most hope to the least served. And how they illuminate!”
We’ll carry out generous giveaways through a fun series of stunts including a 50mtr walk to give a £50 ticket voucher to the first person seen and 50% off shows for Contact members. On a day in November, anyone who calls Contact on the 50th minute of the hour gets a 50p ticket to a show and on National Hot Chocolate Day there will be one free hot chocolate given to the first 50 people in the building.
Artists and alumni joining in the celebration include renowned and award-winning poet, playwright and performer from Manchester Louise Wallwein MBE, theatre maker, writer and comedian Amy Vreeke, multi-award-winning writer, actor, comedian and producer Sophie Willan and artist Jenny Gaskell plus many more.
Keisha Thompson, Artistic Director and CEO of Contact said: “Contact has been a huge part of my life for almost two decades, but our organisation’s incredible history, and its impact on Manchester, reaches far beyond that. For 50 years Contact has nurtured artists, celebrated curiosity and carved out a safe space for young people to express themselves creatively. I’m so excited to look back at our achievements during our birthday, but even more excited to set the vision for what the next 50 years of Contact could look like.”
Key Birthday events to look out for include:
50-Hour Poetry Lock-In
To celebrate the start of its birthday year, Contact shared a public call-out for young poets, receiving over thirty submissions from poets willing to be locked into the building. Poets submitted their tankas (short poems) and Contact staff anonymously shortlisted and voted for their favourite tanka which was written by Georgie Brooke. Georgie writes poetry about the overlaps between identity, self-growth and queerness, and by coincidence, is also a Sales and Comms Assistant at Contact. Georgie’s poem will be filmed and available online on Contact’s 50th birthday on 18 August.
On 15 August, Manchester poet Georgie Brooke was (willingly) locked up in Contact’s building as a poet in residence for 50 hours. They were given a bed, fed and watered throughout, and finally emerged to read their 50-word poem to Contact staff on its 50th birthday, 18 August. This is the first of 50 events, activities, competitions and giveaways to mark Contact’s 50th anniversary, with the sensational finale of a Big Banquet featuring comedian Sophie Willan.
Here is Georgie Brooke’s poem ‘Contact’.
Contact’s 50 Most Celebrated
Contact will celebrate Contact’s 50 most celebrated alumni, projects, participants and performances across social channels weekly throughout the year.
Cocktails and Cinquains
Contact alumna Louise Wallwein MBE will headline a special edition of Cocktails and Cinquains in November.
50 Things That Shaped Me
Contact alumnus and actor Fisayo Akinade, as seen in Heartstopper and Atlanta, hosts a special performance in March 2023.
Tickets on sale soon.
Contact’s Big Banquet
Featuring multi-award-winning writer, actor, comedian and producer Sophie Willan the Big Banquet will be in July 2023 as the finale to the year of birthday celebrations.
Tickets on sale soon.
50th Birthday Contact Membership
As our gift to you, all new and existing Contact Members will receive 50% off almost all shows in our Autumn 2022 season, as well as having access to many free performances.
50th Birthday Fundraising
For 50 years, we’ve been establishing a unique place for young people to grow artistically and forge creative careers. And, as a registered charity, we fundraise all year round to support the exciting programme of work we create with and for young people.
Learn more about how you can support us to light up the stage for 50 more years at this link here.
Junior Akinola, Chair of the Board for Contact said: “It’s an incredible achievement for Contact to reach 50 years. This success extends to everyone who has graced our doors in any capacity during that time, and I’m proud of Contact’s incredible legacy that has changed many lives. Going forward into the next 50 years, I see us continuing our tradition of being innovators in the arts space while keeping inclusion at our core. Here’s to more years of transformative inspiring experiences for the next set of creative leaders, artists and our community.”
Check out our What’s On page for exciting events in our 50th year, and make sure to subscribe to our mailing list to keep up to date with the latest news.