Contact theatre: UK’s first ever young chair appointed to board at major performing arts venue

Contact Theatre are delighted to announce that they have appointed Junior Akinola as Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Former Contact alumni, writer and BBC Assistant Content Producer Junior Akinola, 28, officially joined as Chair on 4 November 2020. He is the first chair under the age of 30 to lead the board of a major performing arts venue in the UK.

Following a governance review, Contact took the decision to ensure that 50% of the board would be made up of young people under the age of 30, and made this a specific focus of the recruitment drive. The recruitment process was led by young people and current Board members.

The appointment of Junior coincides with the reopening of the Contact building on Oxford Road, Manchester, after a £6.75 million refit to be a leading performance venue and space for young people across the region. He will work alongside the current Chair Steven Lindsay for a 6 month handover period, before taking on full Chair responsibilities in May 2021.

Now an Assistant Content Producer at the BBC and a freelance writer, Manchester born Junior first got involved with Contact as a teenager. He credits the organisation for setting him on the successful career path he has today, including securing a prestigious Weston Jerwood Creative Bursary in 2014-16. Junior also participated in the BBC’s Reverse Mentoring scheme, influencing Director of BBC Arts Jonty Claypole on a project for young creatives in the UK.

Contact have also appointed artist and Creative Producer Ali Wilson, 26, to the Board of Trustees. She joins Josh Wilkinson and Grainne Flynn, who also sit on the Board as Young Trustees.

Junior Akinola says of his appointment: “This feels like a full-circle moment for me and one which I’m ecstatic about, especially as we embark on the move back into the redeveloped building.

“When I worked at Contact in 2015, I benefitted greatly from Contact’s commitment to genuinely putting young people in positions of power.

“The trust, belief and encouragement I received allowed me to propel my professional career to great heights. I hope to use my role as Chair to empower future generations, and to collaborate and build relationships that will ultimately boost the creative output in the city.”