England, North West


Dance Drama Musical Theatre Physical Puppetry

Organisation Type



Liz O’Neill

CEO / Artistic Director


Z-arts is the UK’s only arts centre dedicated to offering best practice in children and young people’s creative provision. Our mission: to inspire and enable generations of young people from Greater Manchester and the North West to use creativity to maximise their potential. Z-arts was established in 2000.


  • Z-arts uses creativity to inspire, enrich and enable children, young people and families to reach their potential and be the agents of change in their own lives.
  • In Our Arts Centre in Hulme, in education, in communities, at home and across networks
  • Developing Children, Young People, Educators, Artists and Family-togetherness

Based in Hulme, we are committed to supporting our local communities as well as reaching out across Greater Manchester and the North West.  We operate from a large Edwardian building which includes a 230-seat theatre, gallery, recording studio, music room, dance studio, café and numerous other rehearsal / meeting rooms. But there is much more to what we do that is outside of the building.

We lead networks:

  • Big Imaginations children’s theatre network, bringing brilliant children’s theatre to all areas of the North West
  • MADE (Manchester Cultural Education partnership) with a vision to make Manchester a beacon for creative education, where the arts add magic to life experiences and learning for everyone.
  • Manchester Family Arts Network, improving family provision across cultural venues in Manchester.

Being online in 2020 has resulted in more people being aware of the different areas of work we deliver.  We will seek to embed this wider understanding of the whole of Z-arts activities as part of our ‘rebuild, research and develop’ including brand awareness and evaluation.

We receive strategic funding from Manchester City Council, to lead on best practice for engaging children and young people in arts and culture. We are an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, leading and delivering the Big Imaginations regional network of children’s theatre, programming and commissioning relevant, diverse theatre for the modern family.

Pre-Covid-19 levels of engagement:

  • our Bright Sparks programme, which offers children and young people free creative workshops across all artforms, was full every day of the week.
  • Over 100,000 visitors a year, including 25,000 to our Discover exhibition, promoting children’s literature.
  • Over 20,000 children taking part in our regular activities every year.

Our core values, being Welcoming, Inclusive, Vibrant, Forward-thinking, Engaging and Fun, are as important now as ever, as we welcome children and families back to our building and our practice.  A staff workshop identified Inclusive and Fun being our primary values.

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