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Here, you can access a free online resource on theatre, poverty and economic justice initiatives. We hope that this resource will be a useful port of call for artists, researchers and students. It arises from the first phase of the Poor theatres research, which took place from 2014 until 2016. Thanks to all those who generously donated their time and thoughts to this documentation effort.

Collaborations with five theatre projects across Greater Manchester (UK), and a number of artists and arts organisations working on economic justice projects elsewhere in the world, supported this part of the research. The local projects are all sited within areas of Greater Manchester described by Friedrich Engels in The Condition of the Working Class in England in the 1840s. The idea here was to revise Engels’ account of deprivation by documenting the ways in which artists and communities draw on theatre activity to critique and celebrate their localities. International theatre practitioners were invited to participate in online reflective conversations about their work and these conversations were then edited and uploaded to the database.

The examples of projects included here represent a diverse and overlapping range of methodologies, approaches, histories and principles. They include large and high profile as well as smaller initiatives, and extend from projects focusing on activism for economic justice, social care and welfare, community development, social and/or political rights, and extending cultural access/commons.

You can search the online resource in two ways, via a research map and database.

To search via the research map, click here

To search via the research database, click here


We also have a You Tube platform with ‘teaser trailers’ of our interviews with local, national and international artists.

To view our playlist of teaser trailers from interviews with international artists and arts organisations, click here

To view our playlist of teaser trailers from interviews with local and national artists and arts organisations, click here

Read a blog post on the process of documentation here – ‘Documenting precarious theatres … precariously’

An overview of database contents – local projects:

New Charter Housing/Royal Exchange Theatre partnership (a social housing charity and regional producing theatre) – focusing on Everyday Heroes (2014) – an outdoor performance directed by Evie Manning (Common Wealth Theatre) and Clare Collet and Sam McKay from Chol Theatre; produced by Chol Theatre.

Contact Theatre – The Agency in Moston and Harpurhey, Manchester (2014/15) – a unique project that comes from Brazil and combines entrepreneurialism and devised theatre to train and support young people in business development.

Bolton at Home and Octagon Theatre partnership (a social housing charity and regional producing theatre) – focusing on Melodramatics (a women’s theatre group) and Calder Campbell Resident’s Association cultural activities (through 2015). The materials include reflections on the partnership as well as on Bolton at Home’s renowned Percent for Art scheme by key advocates past and present.

Men’s Room Manchester – an arts and social care agency working with vulnerable young men in Manchester city centre. The materials include reflections by key advocates past and present, and on an artist’s residency facilitated by JSD and Persia – Manchester-based spoken word and hip hop specialists. 

Booth Centre theatre company – a theatre company made up of performers and artists with experiences of homelessness, facilitated by The Edge. The materials available focus on the process and performance of their 2015 show, The Imaginarium of Dr Booth.

Interviews with national and international artists/arts organisations now available:

Marcus Faustini – The Agency (Brazil and UK)

Amani People’s Theatre (Kenya)

AnNua Productions (N. Ireland)

Art and Global Health Center (Malawi)

ATSA (Canada)

Beats and Elements (London, UK)

Budhan Theatre (India)

Colectivo Sustento (Chile)

Collective Encounters (Liverpool, UK)

Cornerstone Theater Company (US)

Teatr Grodski (Poland)

HowlRound (US)

Ice and Fire (London)

Jagriti Theatre and Community Development (India)

Los Angeles Poverty Department (US)

Sojourn Theatre (US)


“… The whole assemblage of buildings is commonly called Manchester, and contains about 400,000 inhabitants, rather more than less. The town itself is peculiarly built, so that a person may live in it for years, and go in and out daily without coming into contact with a working-people’s quarter or even with workers, that is, so long as he confines himself to his business or to pleasure walks. This arises chiefly from the fact, that by unconscious tacit agreement, as well as with outspoken conscious determination, the working-people’s quarters are sharply separated from the sections of the city reserved for the middle class; or, if this does not succeed, they are concealed with the cloak of charity” (Engels, in The Condition of the Working Class in England, first published in German in 1845).