Image for Supported Artists Page, Royal Exchange Theatre

Each year we welcome up to three artists/companies to become Open Exchange Supported Artists. The aim of the scheme is to empower artists to develop their practice and create work with the support of the Exchange and ultimately, we hope, to support and propel artists beyond the walls of our organisation. Supported Artists are chosen by the core Artistic team and the Open Exchange team, who each year will meet and have conversations with dozens of emerging theatre-makers who are creating their work in Greater Manchester.

These artists are invited to create a wish list, or bespoke timetable of activity which we discuss before selecting three artists to be on attachment with us for a year as we endeavour to honour their expectations. These can range from mentorship with a particular artist of interest, dramaturgical support, the covering of course fees, seeing shows or the commitment to the development of an idea.

Their year with us focusses on interrogating them as artists and supporting their development. Each artist receives a £2,000, no strings attached bursary and access to seed funding for projects. 

Current Supported Artists

  • Knaïve Theatre seek to inspire, connect, challenge and empower audiences by making risk-taking political and immersive theatre across a range of styles and genres responding to the world and the communities around them. They experiment to find new and exciting ways to affect, transport and transform audiences and themselves. 

    Their work exists to challenge each other as much as their audience and seeks to poetically express the political dialectics of our time. In the year ahead, they will also be developing the education arm of the company and gaining insight into the more technical aspects of theatre.

    “Thanks to the Open Exchange we have become Supported Artists at the Royal Exchange and our work within the network will be a significant part of what we explore over the coming twelve months. This is undoubtedly the most important part of our journey as a theatre company to date. The Royal Exchange has been a game changer for us in just about every way. It is difficult to contain our excitement about the year to come. It will undoubtedly be an incredible opportunity for growth and development.” Knaïve Theatre are Tyrrell Jones, Sam Redway, Alice Barber.

Previous Supported Artists

  • Testament's year of residency was from October 2016 - October 2017.

    During his time as Supported Artist, he created a one-man show WOKE, a co-production between Royal Exchange Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Roundhouse and CPT. 

    He also wrote BLACK MEN WALKING, based on a real-life walking group, directed by Dawn Walton, Artistic Director of Eclipse Theatre. Click here to read The Stage's review.

    Image of WOKE, Testament, Royal Exchange Theatre

    Testament aka Andy Brooks is a rapper, singer, and producer. Beatboxing since he was 11 and rapping since he was 14, Testament is the creator of highly successful work in theatre and spoken word, including West Yorkshire Playhouse co-commission Blake Remixed. His credits include performances on BBC, ITV, MTV, BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra. He also holds the Guinness World Record for leading the world’s largest human beatbox ensemble and is a frequent collaborator with beatbox pioneer Shlomo. In 2009 he released debut album No Freedom Without Sacrifice to widespread critical acclaim and successfully toured the UK.

  • Mighty Heart Theatre's year of residency was from October 2016 - October 2017.

    During their time as Supported Artists, they developed BINGE, a new piece of work about disordered eating. They were also artistically leading some aspects of LOCAL EXCHANGE, a Royal Exchange Theatre outreach project in Cheetham Hill and Rochdale.

    Image of Mighty Heart Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre Supported Artists

    Mighty Heart Theatre are Sam & Lisa, a couple of twenty-somethings who love leopard print, discos, people & community. The company was born in September 2014 on a crisp autumn evening over pizza, wine and chats about making art that might change the world.

  • Josh Coates is an emerging theatre maker from Bolton, and was the first Open Exchange Supported Artist. With the year as a Supported Artist, Josh aimed to explore the role of the storyteller in contemporary performance.

    Josh Coates 2

    Josh has worked alongside Blast Theory, Daniel Bye and Belarus Free Theatre.  He is co-founder of performance company and band Tin Tin and an associate artist with LEAP (Lancaster Emerging Arts Platform). Josh has presented work in Manchester, Newcastle and London but has yet to perform in Bolton. This breaks his little heart.

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. Sign up here for opportunities.

Image of Open Exchange Visual Identity, Royal Exchange Theatre