CFCCA started life in 1986 as a festival created to provide a platform for the Chinese artistic community in Manchester and beyond. Chinese View ’86 was organised by Hong Kong artist Amy Lai.

Three years later the Chinese Arts Centre opened its doors on Charlotte Street in Manchester’s Chinatown. Chinese Arts Centre was a registered charity with the aim of advancing the education of the public in contemporary Chinese arts and culture. It held its first large-scale contemporary art exhibition Beyond the Chinese Takeaway in 1992, representing the experiences of second and third generation British Chinese artists.

By 1996 the Chinese Arts Centre required a larger venue, and so moved to Edge Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The move out of Manchester’s China Town was a bold statement about the new direction of the organisation. The focus became to encourage larger mainstream audiences to engage with Chinese arts, and to avoid overly traditional representations of Chinese culture and folklore.

In 2003 Chinese Arts Centre received funding from Arts Council England to develop a flagship site. This was to be the CFCCA’s current RIBA award-winning venue on Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter. It is purposefully designed to incorporate elements of Chinese architecture, as well as respecting the original features of the historic Victorian market buildings. The design included a Gallery, unique artist-in-residence studio and living space, a modest archive and library, education and events suite, a reception, shop and teashop (later turned into a second gallery.)

From here the organisation continued to extend its work on a national level, acting as an agency for Chinese arts in Britain and enhancing the visibility of the Chinese artistic community. The introduction of the Residency studio on site provided a unique offer of support for artists, who could explore their artistic practice through living and working in the building.

The centre evolved to become an international agency for Chinese contemporary art. This ethos was embraced by its re-brand in 2013, changing name from Chinese Arts Centre to Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA). This new identity affirmed the CFCCA’s position as a future-facing organisation responding to China’s growing cultural and economic influence. This year also saw the establishment of a partnership with the University of Salford Art Collection to develop a unique collection of Chinese Contemporary Art.

With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, CFCCA recently launched an online Archive, providing access to the organisation’s archive and research library. A lot of  the material can be accessed for free and downloaded to use and share. It is also possible to book an appointment with our archivist to access our Archive & Library resource here onsite by emailing or calling 0161 832 7271.