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Oxford Road’s Contact Theatre is officially reopening following £6m transformation

Contact is BACK, and it’s looking better than ever before…

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Adrian Lambert

Following its closure in 2018, Oxford Road’s iconic Contact Theatre is officially reopening its doors following a massive £6 million building transformation.

Having established itself back in 1972, Contact has long been a staple part of Manchester’s theatre scene, and has provided a stage for an abundance of budding artists and performers over the years – and now, it’s officially making its long-awaited comeback. 

The newly refurbished Contact is returning with a whole host of exciting new facilities under its belt, such as new and improved performance spaces, a purpose-built recording studio for young people’s music projects, a unique health and science development space created in partnership with Wellcome Trust, new offices for artists and cultural organisations to hire, a new and improved public bar and free work and social spaces.

Adrian Lambert

Adrian Lambert

Contact has also secured a partnership with Manchester’s Indian street food icons, Chaat Cart, as well as a number of other exciting new ventures that are yet to be unveiled.

On the theatrical side of things, the theatre’s performance programme will be kicking off in October with Contact Young Company’s Everything All of the Time, a physical and visual journey through a new world, directed by Contact’s Artistic Director, Matt Fenton. Following that, ERGON Theatre will present The Wicked Problem, an immersive performance where audiences will act as the jury in the world’s first ecocide trial.

Mika Onyx-Johnson’s Pink Lemonade is also on the bill, combining original beats, poetry and movement in an explosive autobiographical journey of sexuality, identity and self-discovery. Dibby Theatre and theatre-maker and star of the hit Channel 4 series, It’s a Sin, Nathaniel Hall will present First Time, an award-winning autobiographical show about growing up positive in a negative world.

The Black Pride Manchester Vogue Ball, a collaboration by Contact and House of Ghetto will be hosted in December by the legendary Rikki Beadle-Blair at music venue Gorilla. Contact will also be home to Dick Whittington and his Cat, Eight-Freestyle’s modern, upbeat telling of the classic rags-to-riches story.

Bronwen Sharp

Graham Clayton-Chance

Additional events, shows and exhibitions on the bill include Sisterhood by Speakers Corner Art Director Neesha Tusli Champaneria and photographer Vivek Vadoliya, Come to my Mum’s by Afreena Islam-Wright and Anthology of Joy by The Museum of Half Truths.

Matt Fenton, Chief Executive and Artistic Director at Contact, said on the reopening: “We are overjoyed to be reopening Contact to the public after two years of building works and the challenges of the global pandemic.

“We believe young people deserve the very best resources to create and imagine, and over the last year our new building has been full of early career artists making use of our brilliant new spaces. We have also renewed our vision and mission to reflect the new reality facing our communities, and to ensure all young people are empowered by the arts and creativity.”

For more information, tickets, show times and general updates, head over to the official Contact website and Instagram page.

The full programme listing is as follows:

Everything All of the Time

Wednesday October 6th – Saturday October 9th 2021

Sisterhood

Monday September 27th  – Monday December 6th 2021

Open exhibition

Anthology of Joy

Friday October 8th – Saturday October 23rd 2021

Open exhibition

Black Gold Arts Festival

Tuesday october 19th – Friday October 29th 2021

Ergon: The Wicked Problem

Wednesday November 3rd – Saturday November 6th 2021

Pink Lemonade

Tuesday November 23rd – Saturday November 27th 2021

First Time

Tuesday November 30th – Saturday December 4th 2021

House of Ghetto presents The Black Pride Manchester Vogue Ball

Thu December 18th 2021

Dick Whittington and his Amazing Cat

Saturday December 11th 2021 – Monday January 3rd 2022 

Queer Contact

Friday February 11th – Saturday February 19th 2022

News News News

Saturday March 5th 2022

The Bread We Break

Thursday March 24th – Thursday March 31st 2022

Frankenstein: How to Create a Monster

Monday May 9th – Saturday May 14th 2022

The Glad Game

Monday May 16th – Tuesday May 17th 2022

 

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Free festivals coming to Freight Island for ‘most electrifying season yet’

Get ready for a festival season of great food, drink and music at Freight Island!

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Freight Island

Freight Island is gearing up for an epic free festival series throughout the spring and summer months, which promises to be its ‘most electrifying season yet’.

Back open in full swing on Easter weekend, Freight Island is set to re-open fully on Friday, March 29th featuring world-renowned DJs and the city’s finest talents to present top tier entertainment.

All free to attend, this year’s epic series is set to welcome some of the music scene’s most revered talents such as David Rodigan, Greg Wilson, Norman Jay, Luke Una and his special É Soul Cultura, Crazy P (DJ Set), Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, and many more.

Freight Island

Supporting acts include some of Manchester’s most celebrated DJs and collectives, including the likes of Sit N Bun, Supernature Disco, SK1 Records, Me Gusta Collective, Semi Skimmed Edits, Ghosts of Garage, and more.

In addition to the sensational spring/summer programming, Freight Island also hosts regular events including the famous pop club night Cherrybomb, mass karaoke, creative workshops, and more. 

Continuing to champion independent traders from the North West, Freight Island will see a new addition to this year’s festival season with Liverpool institution Pattersons.

Freight Island

Guests can tuck into the North West spot’s famous mouth-watering fried chicken, which is brined for over 24 hours in Pattersons’ special mix of herbs and spices and dusted in secret recipe flour.

Hungry guests can also expect all of Freight Island’s amazing traders to be back open, including the premium smashed burgers from Burgerism, giant 22” pizza and slices from Voodoo Ray’s, slab shack from Lazy Tony’s Lasagnaria, and Indian and Nepalese street food from Payal.

As well as Greek street food from Mega Gyros, Venezuelan cuisine from Mia’s Arepas, pan-Asian cuisine from Fuku, open fire cooking from Smoking Coal, and cheesecake on a stick from Oh My Cheesecake.

Freight Island

Foodie programme resumes with Seconds carvery every Sunday, featuring quality roast meats and unlimited access to all the trimmings.

To book your FREE tickets for the Freight Island festivals, click HERE.

Freight Island opens for its epic spring/summer festival from Friday March 29th. Opening hours are Thursday from 4pm until 11pm, Friday from 4pm until 12am, Saturday from 12pm until 12am, and Sunday from 12pm until 10pm.

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Chester Zoo letting school children visit for FREE to ‘inspire new generation of conservationists’

More than 35,000 of the free educational visit tickets are up for grabs

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Chester Zoo & @chesterzoo / Instagram

Chester Zoo is inviting children in education to visit for free as part of its aim to inspire a new generation of conservationists.

Pupils from nurseries, primary, secondary schools, and colleges can take advantage of the free places, which gives them the chance to explore conservation up close at the charity’s 128-acre zoological gardens.

Running since 2017, the zoo’s free ticket scheme has already seen more than 100,000 children and young people experience the wonders the zoo has to offer. This year, more than 35,000 of the free educational visit tickets are up for grabs.

Chester Zoo

This time round, the zoo is also opening the initiative to nurseries, schools and colleges that haven’t benefited from the scheme within the last three years.

Every school participating in the programme will receive a free resource pack to help maximise the educational impact of their zoo visit.

Charlotte Smith, director of conservation education and engagement at Chester Zoo, said: “Every one of us is a custodian of our natural world but it’s the next generation of conservationists – children and young people today – who are fundamentally important to overcoming the environmental and biodiversity challenges our planet is facing.

Chester Zoo

“They are inspiring and they give us hope, which is why we’re so keen to connect them with the awe and wonder of nature and help to nurture their passion and desire to make a difference.

“It’s proven that a visit to the zoo can significantly enhance people’s understanding of the huge efforts that go into conserving highly threatened species, while also bringing physical and mental health benefits, too.

“That’s why we particularly want to reach youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds and ensure they are the primary beneficiaries of the initiative – so we can provide them with the skills and know-how to go on and make a real, positive difference to wildlife in their everyday lives.”

@chesterzoo / Instagram

Chester Zoo’s free educational visits are for between November 2024 and February 2025. 

To apply you will need to fill out an application form and submit it online. The deadline is March 22nd.

To apply for a free educational visit to Chester Zoo, click HERE.

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LS Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon painting to go on public display for first time in 57 years

It will go on display for the first time in 57 years before it goes to auction

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Christie's

LS Lowry’s painting Sunday Afternoon is to go on public display for the first time in 57 years.

The painting, worth more than £4 million will go on display in Christie’s London on March 13th before it goes to auction on March 20th.

Lowry, who was born in Stretford in 1887, painted industrial districts in Greater Manchester and around the North West. He mainly depicted Salford in his works.

Christie’s

Laurence Stephen Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon illustrates a densely populated industrial landscape, which shows what Lowry described as the ‘battle of life’. 

Before his death in 1976 at the age of 88, Lowry produced more than 1,000 artworks.

Auctioneers expect the painting to go for between £4 million and £6 million at the Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale on March 20th.

Wally Gobetz / Flickr

The artwork was previously sold at the Christies in 1967 for a ‘record price’ and was obtained from the collection of Keith Showering, who was a former chief executive of Europe’s biggest drinks business Allied Breweries.

Phillip Harley, senior director at Christie’s, said: “Sunday Afternoon by LS Lowry will return to the public eye at Christie’s for the first time since it was last seen here 57 years ago.

“This important painting has remained in the collection of Sir Keith and Lady Showering since 1967, offering a once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire a work of this magnitude and scale.

Gerald England / Geograph

“The composition represents the wonder the artist felt as he recorded his many observations of the evolving society around him.

“We are thrilled to bring Sunday Afternoon back to auction in the Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale. We look forward to welcoming our clients and visitors alike to view the painting when it goes on free display in London on 13 March.”

LS Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon will go on public display at the Christie’s London from March 13th to 20th.

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