News

Pioneering Arts Centre Celebrates 60 Years in Birmingham

Tue 1 March 2022

In 2022 MAC celebrates a 60th anniversary as the leading pioneering arts centre in Birmingham. This autumn, our MAC at 60 season will be launched, featuring an exciting programme of theatre, free exhibitions, cinema, live events, and creative courses. 

On 19 March 1962, the official Incorporation of Cannon Hill Trust Limited was established, followed by a 75-year lease was granted by the City of Birmingham for 8.62 acres of Cannon Hill Park to Cannon Hill Trust Ltd. The site would shortly become the homeplace of Midlands Arts Centre, formally known as the Midlands Art Centre for Young People.

MAC at 60 programme highlights include a public exhibition entitled MAC at 60: A History of MAC in 60 Objects, which will open in September. MAC is inviting members of the local community, along with artists and former staff that have shaped the centre’s history, to submit personal objects associated with the arts charity from 1962 to the present day. 60 objects will be selected and displayed in a dynamic exhibition, telling the rich and fascinating stories of people’s personal connections to MAC. Find further information on the public call out here.

A specially-commissioned film by Dan Watts will be presented as part of the exhibition, looking back over six decades of the centre, rediscovering its history since 1962, and celebrating the people and communities that have shaped its present and future.

In autumn, MAC will host a sensory dining experience with artist Kaye Winwood founder artistic dining room and studio GULP. Audiences will be taken on a gastronomic journey through a culinary art history, with a six-course meal reflecting popular cuisine from each decade through the 1960s to present day.

For families, MAC will host free, creative drop-in workshops during the summer holidays. The Summer Smiles programme will focus on a variety of art forms – exploring popular artistic practice since the arts centre opened. 

Deborah Kermode, CEO & Artistic Director, MAC said: “We are extremely proud to be celebrating sixty years of this incredible arts charity for the people of Birmingham, working with talented local and international artists to produce high-quality theatre, cinema, exhibitions and courses. At MAC, we thrive on being a venue dedicated to making, seeing and doing. A centre for the whole community to enjoy.

“As the former Midlands Art Centre for Young People, founded on the idea of providing creative opportunities for younger generations, we are proud to welcome over 350,000 children and young people and almost 1 million visits from the wider public to our venue each year. The arts charity couldn’t be what it is today without the support of our local community and crucial funders. We are thrilled to celebrate this anniversary with a special programme of events together with the people that know, love, and use MAC.”

Peter Knott, Midlands Area Director, Arts Council England said: “MAC is an important place where people have discovered and explored their creativity for six decades – from taking classes in ceramics and jewellery-making to experiencing ground-breaking theatre and dance.

“We’re really proud to support MAC and as they celebrate this milestone, it’s great to look back at how their work has brought so many people from across the Midlands and beyond together, to be inspired by great artists and local makers, to learn new skills and get creative.”

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said: “I’m delighted to see MAC celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2022. MAC is a much-loved home for accessible and creative activities for Birmingham’s local communities, and I’m pleased to see how support from our players has helped to make a difference to people’s lives.

“It is wonderful to explore the rich history of MAC during this landmark year for the centre, and look forward to seeing the future impact of this vital arts charity, as it continues to provide exciting arts events for audiences of all ages.”

The arts charity will be launching a fundraising campaign alongside MAC at 60, with the aim of continuing MAC’s legacy as a centre for high-quality, inclusive and accessible artistic opportunities for the local community, that contributes to the diverse cultural sector in Birmingham. 

To follow programme announcements over the coming months, please visit our MAC at 60 page.