Dance Hub Birmingham has celebrated the laying of its final bricks this month with a special topping-out ceremony for the construction team, investors, new tenants and recent grant recipients.
Arts Council England committed a £5 million Treasury investment to develop the Dance Hub, with £3 million for the creation of a production and administrative space, and the remaining £2 million supporting additional dance activity, firmly placing Birmingham on the map as a national and international centre for dance.
The completion of the city centre hub includes a rooftop extension above the rehearsal studios for Birmingham Royal Ballet (Birmingham Hippodrome’s largest resident partner) which adds 675 square metres of additional space including a rehearsal studio, changing facilities, new offices and meeting rooms. The development at the Hippodrome’s campus on Thorp Street will also improve access from the public entrance and routes through to the rehearsal and production facilities.
Construction experts Fabrite had to pile drive seven metres deep beneath the existing Birmingham Royal Ballet building to strengthen the structure before adding 125 tonnes of structural steel, all while the ballet company were in rehearsal for one of their busiest seasons. The project, managed by Birmingham Hippodrome, is on schedule and on budget, and due to open this summer at a cost of almost £5 million.
Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England said:
It’s great to see the plans for Birmingham Dance Hub come to life, as it gets set to make a huge impact on the dance scene.
As co-investors with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, and with the other cultural partners who have worked together, we are very proud of this major new development.
We’re delighted that dance companies across the region are already benefitting from Dance Hub commissions, from ballet, contemporary and hip hop, to South Asian and African, allowing us to continue to grow the capacity and skills in our thriving dance sector.
Fiona Allan, Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Birmingham Hippodrome, said:
This latest infrastructure development here on our busy site makes us the biggest UK dance collective outside London, with improved facilities, a significant arrival in our 120th Anniversary year. We welcome One Dance UK to the Hippodrome family as our new tenants in the Hub where, alongside Birmingham Royal Ballet and DanceXchange we hope to achieve even greater impact in years to come.
Working with Fabrite and architects Austin Smith Lord has been very exciting as we have grown this elegant new facility, visible from vantage points over the city, and we look forward to reaching new heights of excellence with our many partners.
Thanks to Arts Council England and the GBSLEP for providing the funding, and to Culture Central and countless individual artists for mapping the sector need and enabling this development.
Anita Bhalla OBE, Board Director for Creative Industries at GBSLEP, said:
Dance Hub will create 17 new jobs, five new apprenticeships and enable 100 more dance performances per year in Birmingham, increasing audience numbers by 15,000. GBSLEP’s commitment of £1.48 million represents a third of the total building cost, with the remaining £3 million provided by Arts Council England. We are delighted by the potential this has unleashed in the burgeoning dance world, a major growth area of the creative industries.
(See Anita Bhalla OBE, Board Director for Creative Industries at GBSLEP, second from left)