On 1 May 2010, mac birmingham re-opened its doors following a multi-million pound makeover and since then has attracted more than 1.7 million visits for performances, courses, film screenings, exhibitions, festivals and more – firmly securing its place as the most popular arts centre in the Midlands.
Over the last two years, visitors have been able to enjoy a wide range of programmes – some highlights including the highly successful exhibition anticurate in summer 2011 showcasing the work of 350 local and regional artists with the work selected for show by a range of local groups; Made in the Middle, the Midlands’ triennial exhibition of contemporary craft – a collaboration between Craftspace and mac in spring 2012. The Lost Happy Endings, “Once upon a Perfect” (Birmingham Post) a co-production with Red Earth Theatre setting Carol Ann Duffy’s charming book to the stage; the recent sell-out Family Weekend as part of the International Dance Festival Birmingham; sampad’s spectacular Mela in Summer 2010, the Birmingham BE Festival in 2010 and 2011; Jane Packman company’s The Woods – an installation and an immersive performance within the tactile, sensory installation.
mac birmingham closed for two years whilst the £15 million renovation took place allowing additional performance studios, a new gallery, more conference and meeting rooms and increased and enhanced public facilities to be built and for the building to be made fully accessible and much more spacious.
The extensive refurbishment has allowed the centre to provide more support for regional and local artists. Over 1000 artists and companies have spent time at mac making new work in new and refreshed studio spaces with the support of mac’s dedicated team of creative professionals – truly a “hothouse for creativity”. An example includes the current ALLOTMENT project in the centre’s Arena Gallery, providing a platform for emerging curatorial talent and for hundreds of artists to display their work, and facilitating significant opportunities for their professional development.
The rejuvenated mac birmingham has attracted critical acclaim over the last two years, achieving recognition by industry professionals. Last year, the arts centre won two awards from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors for ‘Project of the Year’ for the building project and outstanding ‘Community Benefit’, and was a runner up in the National Lottery Awards, again for the building project. Long-serving members of mac birmingham’s Board of Trustees have also been recognised for their visionary and sustained contributions, with Anita Bhalla OBE (Chair of mac) and Viv Astling OBE (Vice Chair) being named Cultural Champions by Arts & Business, and Greg Lowson and John Smith winning Arts & Business “Board member of the Year” awards.
As well as celebrating the second anniversary of the new building, mac birmingham is also preparing to mark 50 years of providing arts for all. This summer, a special interactive installation will launch the anniversary celebrations. Japanese artists KOSUGE1-16 will present THE PLAYMAKERS (Sat 7 Jul – Sun 9 Sep), a playful exhibition which will draw inspiration from mac birmingham’s history – including large-scale marionettes of the centre’s founding Director and Secretary, John English and Alicia (Mollie) Randle providing a link to the centre’s past and a continuing venue for the very best in puppetry.
mac birmingham is planning to attract brand new audiences this summer by playing a role in the London 2012 Festival, hosting the UK premiere of internationally renowned composer Heiner Goebbels’ Walden (Sat 23 Jun). A one day music festival with One Beat Sunday (Sun 22 Jul), celebrates Birmingham’s musical talent, bringing together hotly tipped bands from across the city in the outdoor Arena.
Dorothy Wilson MBE, Chief Executive and Artistic Director commented, “We are delighted that so many people from the local area and far beyond are visiting mac birmingham. We like to think that our offer is unique – genuinely open to all and providing access to high quality arts experiences which are reasonably priced. Our attendance figures, which are growing year on year, are a fantastic endorsement and show that the public clearly support and enjoy what we’re doing. The building project has helped us to reach out to more visitors than ever before and the last two years have played an exciting part in mac birmingham’s 50 year legacy.”