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We want to support artists within Greater Manchester to be creatively ambitious with their work and encourage the sharing of knowledge, resources and artistic practice. The Open Exchange provides a series of developmental opportunities for emerging artists of all disciplines, rooted in the belief that collaboration creates great art and brilliant theatre doesn’t always begin with a script.

"What would the Royal Exchange Theatre look like as a home to local artists? We were aware that there was a need for a more open and collaborative dialogue with artists who were making their work in Greater Manchester, we just had to find a framework that would be creatively useful and sustainable. I talked to lots of artists from across the region to find out what they wanted and what they needed to help them develop their practice, what quite quickly became apparent was an overwhelming desire for time, space and critical feedback. This was the beginning of Open Exchange."
Matthew Xia, Associate Artistic Director, Royal Exchange Theatre. Conceived and led Open Exchange between 2015 and 2017.

At the core of the Open Exchange is the Network – a dynamic group of artists, musicians, directors, poets, performers, and makers, who are interested in investigating the process of creating theatre.

There are currently Three Tiers of Opportunities for Open Exchange members to dip in and out of as much or as little as needed:

We are currently in an exciting period of review to see how Open Exchange can support local artists, drawing on the feedback that we have received over the past three years. To keep in touch as we review and potentially develop Open Exchange, please subscribe to our newsletter by joining the Open Exchange Network. Take a look below to see what we have offered previously.

Tier 1: Members can access a free programme of masterclasses, rehearsal space, advice and mentoring.

Tier 2: Applied-for opportunities to get paid to make theatre in collaborative and adventurous ways with REACT and Co:LAB.

Tier 3: Year-long bespoke residencies for up to three Supported Artists who are identified as promising emerging theatre makers.

The work of the Open Exchange also fuels our biennial Hodgkiss Prize, a prestigious award which enables artists and companies from across the North of England to produce new devised work at the Exchange.


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At its simplest, Open Exchange is a free network of multidisciplinary artists who want to share ideas and perhaps make some work together. The Exchange is a hub for that network to meet, stay connected and find out about opportunities for theatre makers from across the UK.

  • This is for you
  • • If you are an emerging theatre-maker or artist aged 18+, based or making work in Greater Manchester

    • If you are seeking new collaborators or looking to develop your craft

    • All types of artists and art forms are welcome, including those who wouldn’t usually consider a theatre as their natural home

    • We actively encourage sign up from groups and individuals who are under-represented in the artistic community (BAME, D/deaf & Disabled)

  • As an Open Exchange member, you'll receive regular newsletters with:
  • • Invitations to exclusive Open Exchange workshops and masterclasses

    • Invitations to networking events, and free ticket offers to Royal Exchange shows

    • Information and the opportunity to apply for exclusive commissions such as REACT and Co:LAB

    • Information that the Royal Exchange Theatre receives from other organisations about jobs, workshops, scratch events and call-outs for submissions.

    • Peer to peer information sharing, callouts and invites

  • How to join
  • You can join the Open Exchange Network in two easy steps.

    • Step 1
    To join, you must have a Royal Exchange Theatre customer ID number. You can find this on your theatre tickets or an email receipt. Alternatively you can create a brand new account. Still having trouble finding your number? Contact the Box Office on 0161 833 9833 / email for help.

    • Step 2
    Once you have your customer ID, please fill out this survey to complete your registration to the Open Exchange Network.

    Don't forget to send a request to join the members only Facebook Group.

"The Open Exchange has been incredibly supportive, it is without a doubt in a league of its own compared to other artist development programmes around the UK. We have been supported to take risks, work with new collaborators and challenge ourselves more than ever before. As soon as we signed up to the Open Exchange network we opened a door to a wonderful opportunity to meet and be taken seriously by an industry leading theatre.”  
Knaïve Theatre, Supported Artist (2016-2017).

The Open Exchange has been generously supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

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