In 1986, a group of Manchester base artist of Chinese descent organised Chinese View '86, the first arts festival of its kind in the UK, as a platform for the Chinese artistic community and to develop the positive identity of Chinese culture in Britain. After the success of the festival the artist formed the Chinese View Arts Association (CVAA) and organised a second festival in 1988.
In 1989, the CVAA was able to secure funding to open a new arts and community centre, the Chinese Arts Centre, at 36 Charlotte Street, in the heart of Manchester's China Town. The Centre aimed to aim to reconnect the younger generation of Chinese people in Manchester with traditional Chinese arts and crafts and well as advance the education of the general public, though exhibitions, workshops and other events.
In 1997 the Centre moved to new premises Edge Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The move signalled the beginning of the Centre’s gradual shift from traditional to contemporary Chinese art, and began to promote young British based Chinese artists through its ‘New Commissions’ scheme. During this period the Centre also organised several touring exhibitions which promoted Chinese contemporary art to a wider audience: ‘Representing the People’ (1999) and ‘Made in China’ (2001) toured the UK and provide a platform for Chinese artists, many of whom had never exhibited work in the UK previously.
In 2003 the Centre moved into a purpose built building on Thomas Street. The new RIBA award winning building featured a large gallery space, a resident artist studio, an education suite and a shop with a tea shop. The new space gave the Centre the room to expand their activities acting as an agency for Chinese arts in Britain and inviting collaborations with other organisations. The Centre’s commitment to helping the career development of British-based artist of East Asian descent was also shown in schemes such as ‘PAD’ (Professional Artist Development) and ‘EAST’ ( East Asian Strategic Training).
From 2008 the Centre changed its focus to become an international agency for Chinese contemporary art, working with artist and organisations from across East Asia. This led to the rebranding of the organisation as the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) in November 2013. In 2014 CFCCA became a major partner in the third Asia Triennial Manchester, curating Harmonious Society, which brought 30 artists to 6 venues in Manchester.
In 2016, the Centre commemorated its 30th anniversary with a programme of events and exhibitions featuring artists, curators and academics who had previously worked with the organisation.