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50 HOURS OF FOCUS is a week of talks, workshops and masterclasses that explore the arts industry's most burning issues.

Arm yourself for 2023 and beyond with wisdom and skills from an acclaimed selection of artists and experts, connect with others working in the creative industries, and have the chance to meet the Contact team.

Tickets allow access to two sessions per day, and include lunch.

Please note, each day Space 0 will be open for casual social and networking opportunities between 5pm and 8pm (excluding Tues 31)

During 50 Hours of Focus, Short Supply will be in residence to pull you for a chat about your own expertise. 

50 Hours of Focus is about starting us up fresh for the new year, getting our cogs whirring and hands moving with the help of an amazing lineup of speakers. We know that your brains will be working away as you listen, coming up with new insights, ideas and advice for each other. So before you go home and try and explain to your flatmate (who may or may not be interested) in what you’re going to do with what you’ve learned, let’s get excited about it together.

Short Supply is a bridge between emerging artists and arts organisations, producing exhibitions, workshops and talks to create enriching environments that allow us to platform, connect and exchange knowledge alongside emerging artists in the north west and nationally.


Monday Session 1 – Money Talks (12.30 – 2) 

Join Toni-Dee Paul and Keisha Thompson to chat finance, economics, and how the money management skills you learn from being working class are an important resource in the creative industries.

Monday Session 2 – Producing: Ways In (3 – 5) 

What is a producer and how do you become one? Hear from Faidat Ope, Faith Yianni and Keisha Thompson, three producers with very different experiences, on their journeys through producing, and learn practical tips and advice on getting into the producing world.

Read full bios for session speakers here.


Tuesday Session 1 – I Get Knocked Down (But I Get Up Again) (12.30 – 2) 

How do you keep going when all you hear is no? Hosted by Keisha Thompson, this talk explores why artists face frequent rejection, and looks at ways to build resilience and carve out a career despite the odds.

Tuesday, Session 2 – Staging Complex Conversations (3 – 5) 

Join 20 Stories High and Contact as they screen and discuss the making of their BBC commissioned I Told My Mum I Was Going On An RE Trip…; a frank, funny and moving drama about four young women’s abortion experiences. Julia Samuels, Roxy Daykin-Moores, and Lisa Hallgarten will reflect on making a piece of work that deals with complex and sometimes polarising subject matter.

Read full bios for session speakers here.


Wednesday Session 1 – Take Care of Your Brain: The Neuropsychology of Health and Wellbeing – (12.30 – 2) 

In this session, Dr Penny Trayner and Keisha Thompson take a scientific dive into how a holistic approach to wellbeing can promote a healthy brain. They’ll explore the neuropsychological impact of sleep hygiene, nutrition, environment and more.

Wednesday Session 2 – Artistic Directors Through The Years (3 – 5) 

Join Keisha Thompson in conversation with Contact’s three previous Artistic Directors – Matt Fenton, John McGrath and Baba Israel – to find out about their journeys through Contact. Hear about what motivated them, what they learnt and gained from Contact, and their different approaches to building Contact’s legacy as an internationally renowned theatre with young people at the centre of its decision-making.

Read full bios for session speakers here.


Thursday Session 1 – Power Together: Why You Should Join a Union (12.30 -2) 

Are unions just about striking? Salome Wagaine (Equity) and Naomi Taylor (Bectu) share their experiences working for the arts industry’s biggest trade unions and discuss what’s possible when a workforce unites and supports each other.

Thursday Session 2 – Why Every Board Needs Under 30s – (3 – 5) 

Young people’s voices are vital to organisations and Contact commits to 50% of its board being under 30 – but what do boards actually do? Afreena Islam-Wright, Josh Wilkinson and Keisha Thompson share their journeys as young trustees and explore basic policy, procedures, and practical tips in a fun and lively session.

Read full bios for session speakers here.


Friday Session 1 – Who, Me? A PhD? (12.30 – 2) 

How might a PhD be useful in the arts industries? Can you do one even if you don’t have an academic background? Join Clare Patterson, Mahboohbeh Rajabi and Simon Parry as they discuss their different experiences of beginning a PhD, the importance of creative practice as research, and the need for different ways of collaborating between universities, cultural organisations and creative practitioners.

Friday Session 2 – An Introduction to Anti-Racism (3 – 5) 

Over the past two years, Keisha Thompson and Contact have developed a robust anti-racism training offer. It aims to unpick the structural complexities of prejudice and discrimination, and provide a space for reflection, challenge and ultimately change-making. In this shorter introductory session, you will develop a heightened awareness of societal racism and personal agency, before focussing on the development of an actionable plan for positive change.

Read full bios for session speakers here.


Saturday Session 1 – Queering Spaces (12.30 – 2) 

How do we stay authentically queer when the world isn’t designed with you in mind? Could LGBTQIA+ people build our own spaces instead? Hear from different artists on their experiences of creating sites of resistance and spaces for queer care, safety and joy. Chaired by Caitlin Gleeson, joined by Darren Pritchard, Rebecca Swarray and Lizard Morris.

Saturday Session 2 – Creative Access (3 – 5) 

In this session, join artists and access experts to explore how you might approach access creatively and embed accessibility into the fabric of your work, even when you’re still learning. Chaired by Rose Sergent, joined by Alice Christina-Corrigan, Ngozi Ugochukwu, Nickie Miles Wildin and Suriya Aisha.

Read full bios for session speakers here.


If you have any access needs you want to discuss with us, please call the box office Monday to Friday between 10 – 10pm on 0161 274 0600.

Alternatively, you can email the box office on, or get in touch via direct message on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram (@contactmcr on all three platforms).

Once you have been booked in a wheelchair seat once, you can book online from then onwards and do not have to call our box office team to facilitate your booking. Please do reach out if you have any questions about this process.

  • Price
    £5 or FREE for Contact Members
  • Venue

    Space 0, Contact, Oxford Rd, Manchester, M15 6JA

  • Ages
    All ages welcome!
  • Running
    Two slots per day; 12.30 - 2, and 3 - 5
  • Booking info

    Please note, lunch is included in your day booking. When you book for one day, you are booking both sessions within the day period (12.30 – 2, and 3 – 5).

  • Genre
Date Time & Place
Monday 30 January 12:30pm
Sold out
Tuesday 31 January 12:30pm
Sold out
Wednesday 1 February 12:30pm
Sold out
Thursday 2 February 12:30pm
Sold out
Friday 3 February 12:30pm
Sold out
Saturday 4 February 12:30pm
Sold out