Royal Exchange Theatre

Royal Exchange Theatre

At a glance


  • Arts
  • Local / community
  • Museums / heritage
  • Training / employment support
  • Young people

Other details

Geographical remit: 
National - Britain


The Royal Exchange Theatre (RET) is an award-winning producing theatre company founded in 1976 and housed in the Royal Exchange Building in the heart of Manchester city centre. The building has two theatre spaces – a 760 seat theatre module suspended from the pillars of the Grade II listed former Corn Exchange, and configured ‘in the round’, and a 90 seat Studio Theatre space.

Originally the city’s Cotton Trading Exchange, the Great Hall itself is a visitor destination. Inside there is a Theatre Shop, café, bar, restaurant, gallery and information about the building’s heritage and recent history.

With an annual turnover of over £8million, the theatre’s income is derived from ticket sales, corporate support, philanthropic donations, trusts and foundations and other trading income. Public funding sources currently comprise of the Arts Council England (£2.3m) and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (£232,000). Last year public investment accounted for 35% of total turnover. The Royal Exchange is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity.

Around 500 people are employed or contracted by the RET over the course of a year. Of these, 100 are in permanent positions, while around 400 are employed on short term contracts as actors, stage management, creative teams and technicians. We also have around 100 volunteers who help out within our Costume Hire team, within Front of House department as Ushers and on the information point located in the Great Hall.


Our focus is to extend our reach and develop a wider range of engagement opportunities for our audiences. We want to grow the numbers of people who see and take part in our work, as well as to extend the range of people who engage in our work in the building, in other spaces and digitally.

The theatre-going audience in Manchester and the North West region has become ever more sophisticated and adventurous in its appetite for theatre over recent times. In the last 15 years, the theatre sector in Manchester has grown in quality and range, particularly with the arrival of the Lowry and Manchester International Festival. This growth and development has continued with a re-invigorated Contact, a new family focused venue, Z-Arts, the opening of HOME, bringing together the Library Theatre and Cornerhouse and a new multi arts venue, The Factory, due to open in 2019. A new theatre is being planned to be the future home of Oldham Coliseum and The Octagon, Bolton is also planning for capital improvements in the next few years. Outside London, Manchester now offers the most dynamic theatre programme in the country.

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