MAC Birmingham, Midlands Arts Centre, Building, Architect, Design, Picture, Info
MAC Birmingham, Midlands Arts Centre
Cultural Development in Central England, UK: Architecture News
21 Apr 2012
MAC – Midlands Arts Centre
mac, the Midlands Arts Centre, re-opens its doors on 1 May 2010 following a two-year project that has transformed significant areas, including the cinema and theatres, while adding almost half as much space again with a new gallery, exhibition spaces, digital media suite, cafe-bar and performance studios.
The project has also improved mac’s immediate environment by planting 200 trees and opening up a new outdoor terrace giving direct access to Birmingham’s Cannon Hill Park.
The £15 million scheme – a partnership between mac and sampad, the national agency for South Asian Arts – was funded by Arts Council England, Birmingham City Council, charitable trusts, commercial sponsors and public fund-raising.
mac is now ready to resume its place as a pioneering centre for creative experimentation and public engagement. Always noted for its range of classes in the visual and performing arts, mac is now poised to use digital technology to open up further the creative process to the public. Plasma screens and wi-fi enable live relays from, for example, performance rehearsals, the ceramics studio or dance workshops throughout the building’s public spaces.
mac’s vision of developing a new model for arts centres in the 21st century extends to its relationship with artists, with a new ‘associate’ model so far embracing experimental Birmingham theatre company Stan’s Cafe, Leamington-based dance company Motionhouse and East Midlands children’s theatre company, Red Earth.
Artistic director and chief executive Dorothy Wilson is passionate about the prospects for richer and deeper relationships with artists as a result both of the new facilities and a new approach to programming. For example, Motionhouse’s opening-season show, Scattered, would have been too big for any of mac’s former spaces. Now Scattered can not only be accommodated physically but also creatively in a programme that includes public engagement with the development of Motionhouse’s new show, Cascade. This mac commission will open in Birmingham prior to an international tour.
Other artistic collaborations made possible for the opening season include a theatrical treatment of poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy‘s children’s book, The Lost Happy Endings, with Red Earth.
The new gallery will also benefit from the improved environmental conditions and programming opportunities. Now, with one of the largest and best-equipped contemporary spaces in the region mac and now take Grade A touring exhibitions for first time, and is currently developing a partnership with the Hayward Gallery. The gallery programme will also take advantage of the interactive opportunities presented by the new building, starting with the opening exhibition, plug in, curated by Simon Poulter, which includes a ‘word-cloud’ generated on-line by members of the Birmingham public.
In keeping with its ethos of placing artists at the centre of the organisation, mac has a number of artist’s commissions in its new building. They include art works by Myfanwy Johns (with members of the Bosnian Cultural Centre Midlands), Sara Taylor and Laura Johnston.
Address: mac – Midlands Arts Centre, Cannon Hill Park, 2 Russell Road, Birmingham, West Midlands B12 9QH
Contact Midlands Arts Centre: 0121 446 3232
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