Famed for her iconic role as Hayley in Coronation Street, actor Julie Hesmondhalgh has released a video urging audiences to donate to Contact Theatre’s ambitious fundraising campaign to complete the renovation of the theatre.

First established in 1972 and a famous landmark on Manchester’s Oxford Road corridor, Contact is a leading UK theatre and arts venue, recognised nationally and internationally as a place that puts young people first.

Contact has been closed to audiences for three years, so that the building can be extended and refurbished to create an environment that puts young people at the heart of the organization

The contractors completed their work on the expanded and refurbished Contact building in July 2020. Julie’s video is specifically asking the public to donate £20 help throw open the doors to young people across Greater Manchester.

Other celebrity supporters of the campaign include Dr Who star Mandip Gill, Hollyoaks actor Haiesha Mistry and poet Louise Wallwein MBE, all of whom started their careers at Contact.

Part of the money raised will go towards completing a purpose-built recording studio for free, young people’s music and media projects. Donating £20 will buy a mic stand, and donating £100 will put a microphone in that stand, which will allow the voices of young people across Greater Manchester to be heard.

The fundraiser will also go towards properly fitting out and equipping a brand new rehearsal studio, which will be available for Contact’s Young Company to create new performances and shows. CYC usually perform three entirely new public shows per year, both at Contact and other cultural spaces around Manchester, which in recent years has included Manchester Art Gallery and the Science and Industry Museum. In addition, other young artists will be able to hire these spaces to work on and showcase their performances.

Funds raised will also help finish a brand new Arts, Health and Science space, the first of its kind in a UK theatre. This space, supported by Wellcome will bring young people, artists, healthcare professionals and scientists together to research and explore issues relating to young people and local communities, informing arts and wellbeing projects and future theatre productions.

A successful fundraising campaign will enable Contact to reopen in late 2020 for socially distant participation and creative activities, with performances scheduled to start in 2021.

The video can be viewed in full here:


Julie Hesmondhalgh said ‘I’m a proud supporter of Contact, Manchester, having seen the work at close quarters through many years, and having witnessed so many people’s lives being changed beyond measure by the incredible work of that building.

Now, more than ever, we need to keep that service alive, and well and thriving. Contact is part of the artistic fabric of the culture in Manchester, and the build is nearly complete. Please, if you can do anything to help, do it.’

Matt Fenton, Chief Executive and Artistic Director at Contact said: ‘It’s vital we’re able to welcome young people back safely to our building this Autumn. For the price of a few drinks, you can make a real difference to the creative life of a young person in Greater Manchester. Please help us raise £20,000 to kit out our spaces by the end of the year, and continue to support young people from all backgrounds to stay active and stay creative.’