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Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

(4.5/5 based on 40+ reviews on the web)
Waterside Arts Centre is a thriving and vibrant arts venue in the heart of Sale in Greater Manchester. Comprising a theatre, art galleries, studios and workspaces, the centre is an important regional hub for both performance and visual art.

It is a major touring venue for theatre productions, music groups, comedians and art exhibitions, while at the same time providing a vital resource for the local community. The centres hosts classes, seminars and workshops on subjects ranging from drama to salsa and poetry to tai chi. It also regularly serves a base for regional music and performance groups including Touchdown Dance, Sale Chamber Orchestra and Trafford Youth Orchestra. A brochure containing a full list of all the centre’s performances, exhibitions, classes and events is produced three times a year (January - April, May - August and September to December).

The centre is supported by Trafford Council, Arts Council England, Manchester Airport and Lauriston School Trust. It’s partners are Cofely, PANDA and All About Audiences. Waterside Arts Centre forms part of the Sale Waterside Complex which overlooks the attractive Waterside Plaza and Bridgewater Canal. Also housed in the complex are the Waterside Bar and OCA Restaurant as well as Sale Library, Youth Talk Shop and Trafford Direct and Trafford Council Offices.


Waterside Arts Centre occupies the site of the old Sale Civic Theatre as well as part of the former Trafford Council Town Hall. Following the closure of the theatre and the relocation of the town hall to Stretford, plans were made to rebuild and update the site into a new arts venue. After 10 years of work, the Waterside Arts Centre was able to launch its first artistic programme in November 2004.

Now a modern arts venue, the centre continues to reflect several aspects of its local heritage. The 350 seat theatre is named after the late Sale-born screenwriter Robert Bolt. Born in 1926, Bolt became one of the most successful playwrights and screenwriters of his generation. He won Oscars for his screenplays for Doctor Zhivago and A Man for All Seasons, which he adapted from his own play. He also penned the script for David Lean’s epic 1962 classic Lawrence of Arabia. The centre was officially opened by Bolt’s widow, Sarah Miles.

The centre’s Lauriston Gallery also commemorates the Trafford based Lauriston Trust. The aim of the trust is to promote the arts in all their forms to young people in Trafford and Greater Manchester. It provided invaluable support to the gallery, which was opened by trust chair, Betty Gallimore MBE, on April 29, 2004. The Waterside’s civic heritage has too been preserved. The centre’s venue known as The Chamber is the former meeting chamber of the old Trafford Council Town Hall. The room remains the same as when constructed in the 1930s. It boasts wood panelled walls, parquet flooring and art deco flourishes.
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  • We have seen several exhibition and events here and every time it has been well worth the trip. This is a quality venue that punches far above it's weight and should NOT be dismissed as a backwater pl...  more »
  • Have managed to get to a number of evens this year including live theatre and music.. Conveniently located and a good local venue with some surprisingly good (albeit old) acts... Dr Feelgood, Lloyd Co...  more »
  • A great facility comprising picture/art gallery, bar/cafe, arts theatre and meeting rooms. This is an ideal venue to hire for that important function. I visit on a weekly basis, my choir is based ther...  more »
  • They get some very good bands and artists on here. There is also a small art gallery, to keep you amused while waiting for the gig to start.
  • Lots of wonderful shows and exhibitions bringing culture to Sale town centre.
  • Watched a play in the theatre, comfy seats and s good view, even with being sat at the back.
  • Great art centre and library
  • Nice local programme