Our history begins with the Chinese View '86 festival organised by artist Amy Lai with the intention of providing a platform for the Chinese artistic community and to develop the positive identity of Chinese culture in Britain.
Following the success of the festival, the Chinese Art Centre was opened in 36 Charlotte Street in 1989, with the 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. Our first exhibition was 'Descendants of the Dragon' which showcased objects collected from the local Chinese community which best demonstrated their lives in Manchester. While based at Charlotte Street, the Centre organised many large scale exhibitions and events, including the first Chinese Film festival in Manchester in collaboration with the Cornerhouse theatre.
In 1997 the Centre moved to new premises Edge Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, opening with an exhibition by Adam Wei. The move also 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. The residency scheme discovered artists who went on to have distinguished careers, such as Suki Chan and Joshua Jiang. 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 its current home on Thomas Street funded by an Arts Council England Big Lottery grant. 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 resident artist scheme built upon the work developed at Edge Street, and gave artist the space to explore their artistic practice through living and working at the Centre. 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.