MAC announces completion of new accessible artist studio and garden and receives funding from GBSLEP

Mon 7 December 2020
Accessible artist studio and garden at MAC Credit: Ross Jukes Photography

Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) is thrilled to announce the completion of a new accessible artist studio and sensory garden as part of an ambitious on-site renovation project, generously supported by funding from Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and Arts Council England (ACE).

The renovation project, which began in 2019 and will continue into 2021, will see the reinvigoration of existing spaces, advancements to digital infrastructure, and the refurbishment of MAC’s café, to vastly improve visitor experience and public safety in a post-Covid environment for the local community and beyond. At the heart of this project is MAC’s ambition to improve and increase the charity’s educational and community provision.

This transformation removes the barriers to access that some visitors face, developing MAC’s role as a national leader in high-quality creative learning programmes for people with disabilities and/or additional needs.

Pocket garden at MAC Credit: Ross Jukes Photography

Deborah Kermode, CEO and Artistic Director of MAC said: "We are delighted to have been awarded £400,000 by GBSLEP for our ambitious renovation project. This vital investment has supported creation of our recently completed purpose-built spaces, alongside improvements to MAC’s existing studios.

“This generous grant comes at a particularly challenging time for the arts, and will help MAC to continue our legacy of providing ‘arts for all’ through our community work, by meeting the growing demand for practical learning opportunities with accessibility at the forefront. In doing so, we will benefit the artists and audiences that regularly engage with our creative programme, offering safe spaces and exemplary access for our most vulnerable visitors.

“Following consultation from 2018 to present, the project has been informed by feedback from artists, audiences, staff, partners and funders, placing our stakeholders at the heart of the transformative redevelopment. We are extremely grateful to GBSLEP and ACE for their generous and on-going support.

Artist commissioned fence at MAC Credit: Kate Green Photography

As one of the busiest arts centres in the West Midlands, MAC provides a wealth of affordable creative opportunities for the local community, and will continue to present and extend our offering of free events reaching 13,000 people every year.

The redevelopment project will generate new job and apprenticeship opportunities, whilst helping MAC to establish a relationship with 10,000 additional audience members per year.

Through investment in digital infrastructure and the refurbishment of existing spaces, the charity’s financial resilience will be greatly strengthened, allowing MAC to further contribute to local economic growth.

MAC has celebrated the completion of the artist studio and garden, which will host future participatory events and artists’ residencies, by inviting members of their community outreach groups to attend exclusive sessions, such as garden gigs, during the venue’s public closure.

SWITCH, MAC’s resident band for young people with additional needs, have since safely visited spaces for a socially distanced musical session, before the second national lockdown, which saw the group meet for the first time in-person since March earlier this year.

MAC’s Celebrating Age Culture Club members will be utilising the new studio and garden together safely in the near future, to create artwork and socialise during challenging times.

SWITCH members taking part in a socially distanced musical session in MAC's accessible artist studio

Anita Bhalla, Board Director for Creative Industries at GBSLEP said: “The creative and cultural economies of our region play a vital role in supporting our local economy, enhancing quality of life and creating community focal points as well as attracting new visitors and investment. At such a difficult time for these sectors, we are extremely pleased to be able to support the MAC with this exciting project which will not only enhance visitor experience but create new jobs and help strengthen the charity’s future resilience.

“As one of the fastest growing areas of the economy, the arts and the wider creative industries they support, have a critical role to play in achieving a strong economic recovery following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. GBSLEP is committed to harnessing the potential of cultural and creative assets as we build back better together.”

Made possible through GBSLEP and Arts Council England's support, MAC will continue to provide accessible, practical creative experiences and crucial outreach work, making a difference to Birmingham’s local communities and contributing to the city’s rich cultural offering.

Further details on the progress of the renovation project will be released over the coming months.