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End of an era … The Drum is now closed

Yesterday, 30 June 2016, marked the closure of The Drum Arts Centre. The Special Resolution to wind-up Newtown Cultural Project Ltd, better known as The Drum, was taken by its Chair, Sharon Palmer and the Board of Trustees in March of this year. Their decision was made following a review of the organisation commissioned by the Arts Council. The building will now revert back to the landlords, Birmingham City Council.

Newtown Cultural Project was incorporated as a company. limited by guarantee, with charitable status in Autumn 1994. It spent four years developing its vision, securing funding and engaging with audiences before moving into the building based in Potters Lane, Newtown, Birmingham which was the site of the former Aston Hippodrome. After being closed for decades, Aston Hippodrome was reincarnated in 1998 as The Drum Arts Centre, reigniting its legacy as a venue where arts, diversity and cultural activity could be enjoyed by all.

The Drum came about following a strongly articulated desire in the 1980s by the region’s Black artists who presented a strong case for the need for a major building based resource. This desire contributed to West Midlands Arts and Birmingham City Council’s 1992 Black Arts Strategy. The Drum opened its doors in Spring 1998 and occupied these premises for nearly 19 years.

Throughout its 22-year history, The Drum provided a much-needed resource for Britain’s African, Asian and Caribbean artists and communities. The multi-purpose arts centre welcomed artists, audiences and participants – African, Asian, Caribbean and European from across Birmingham, the UK and the rest of the world. It presented a diverse mix of music, theatre, dance, comedy, spoken word, literature and film supported by workshops, masterclasses and a programme dedicated to developing the confidence, artistic and cultural talent of young people from the surrounding area. The Drum was also synonymous with some of Birmingham’s major celebrations and festivals including Black History Month, Aston Heritage Day and Simmer Down.

The Drum is proud of its history. It’s proud of its achievements – the dedication of all its audiences, participants, artists, promoters, advocates and staff who contributed their time, energies and talent to support the organisation’s vision to be the UK’s leading Black Arts Centre. Thank you to each and every one of you.

In order that we might find some way to try and explain and understand the background and decisions leading up to the winding up of Newtown Cultural Project and the subsequent closure of The Drum Arts Centre; in order that 22 years is not consigned purely to archives and history books; in order that The Drum doesn’t become yet another unfulfilled promise and the latest demise of a Black-led, dedicated Black arts venue, Birmingham City Council facilitated the coordination of a Steering Group. This group have been meeting for several weeks and is now taking discussions forward under the banner of Birmingham Black Arts Development Agency (BBDA). Please visit the website https://bbada.wordpress.com for more details and to join the debate.

The Council is also welcoming proposals to run The Drum building. All interested parties are being invited to submit an Expression of Interest. For more information, go online and visit property.birmingham.gov.uk. Alternatively, email bpslettings@birmingham.gov.uk or call 0121 303 3935. The deadline for applications is 1 August 2016 at 2.30pm.

Closure of The Drum is a loss to everyone – not only to those who enjoyed its support and facilities. It is the loss of the symbol of Britain’s promise to promote cultural diversity in the arts and particularly to Britain’s national Black Arts Strategy. A light has gone out, but the spirit and heart remains!

Upfront Comedy … Angie goes down a storm

After a short break for the summer, last Friday night we welcomed the return of Upfront Comedy.  Keeping it in the family were comedy duo Angie Le Mar and her son Travis, with their show aptly titled Mother & Son Standing Up.  As always Angie delivered a heavyweight set.   She stole the show and had everyone in stitches.

We’ve still got three Upfront Comedy shows left for the autumn season so check out the list below.  You won’t want to miss out, so book your tickets now!

Saturday 3 October
Saturday Night Laugh Fever
A full Saturday night special featuring Brixton’s brutal Felicity Ethnic, mixing it up with exciting afrocentric newcomer Athena Kugblenu, and variety in the form of laddish humour from  award winning comics Kevin J and Axel Blake.

Friday 6 November
Big hitters galore on November’s line up, which sees comedy’s duchess Glenda Jaxson, teaming up with veteran rude boy Rudi Lickwood and south Londoner gagster Junior Booker for laughs aplenty.

Friday 4 December
Slick Real McCoy veterans Jefferson & Whitfield head up December’s show with their smooth blend of jokes, musical interludes and bedroom banter; contrasting with the whirlwind that is Annette Fagon, and the urbane wit of Jason Patterson.

Doors open: 7pm
Advance tickets: £13.50 (£11.50 for concessions)
OTD: £16.50
Season ticket: £40

Food available on the night.

INVITATIONS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH LAUNCH NOW AVAILABLE

Black History Month 2015

The countdown to the official launch of Birmingham Black History Month is on. With just over three weeks to go, The Drum in partnership with Birmingham City Council, have organised a month long programme of events. Our events will celebrate the achievements, contributions and struggles of African, Asian and Caribbean people.

The theme for this year’s programme is the 50th anniversary of both Malcolm X’s significant visit to Smethwick and the passing of the Race Relations Act 1965 – the first legislation to address racial discrimination.

The launch will take place on:

Fri 2 Oct, 6 – 9.30pm
The Drum Arts Centre
144 Potters Lane, Aston, Birmingham, B6 4UU

The Black History Month 2015 launch programme will consist of a drinks reception followed by the opening of the RACE 50 exhibition. Our guest speaker Dr Kehinde Andrews will discuss Malcolm X’s visit. He will also discuss how attitudes to racial discrimination have changed in Birmingham and the rest of the UK since the Act was introduced. ‘Celebrating the Light’ is a specially commissioned piece by young musicians who are part of the Arts Champions Scheme.  Also featured in this year’s line up are members of Young Drum – The Drum’s Performing Arts Academy for young people aged 7 – 25 years. They will be presenting a multi-artform piece based on the theme of Malcolm X.

If you would like to attend the launch please RSVP by visiting www.bhmbrumlaunch2015.eventbrite.co.uk or contact The Drum Box Office on 0121 333 2444. Alternatively, email Paulette Francis-Green p-officer@the-drum.org.uk by 5pm on Wed 30 Sep. You are able to bring along a maximum of two guests. Please note this event is very popular and due to capacity and catering requirements, places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Dub Qalandar to close the Birmingham Weekender

The Drum are pleased to be part of the Birmingham Weekender, taking place place across the City Centre from 25 – 27 September.

Birmingham Weekender is a whole weekend of free indoor and outdoor performance for all ages to enjoy.

Dub Qalandar is a spectacular inter-cultural multi art form which has been specially created as a key signature commission to close the Birmingham Weekender festival. An ensemble of master musicians, vocalists, poets and dancers come together in a spiritually uplifting tapestry which pays tribute to Birmingham’s rich cultural diversity.

Sufi mystic music meets roots reggae in a deep spiritual dub mix, from village clay pitchers, intricate sitars rifts, rhythmic Qawwali clapping, punctuating dholki beats, reverberating bass lines, skanking guitars to nyabinghi drummers. This new inter-cultural orchestra is musically directed by the award winning composer Simon Duggal and created and directed by Mukhtar Dar.

Dub Qalander at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham on Sunday 27 September at 6.30pm.

This unique experience is a free ticketed event. Tickets need to be booked in advance and can be only booked via the THSH Box Office by calling 0121 345 0600. For more information on ticket please click here.

To find more about Birmingham Weekender, visit www.birminghamweekender.com

 

 

Glowing review by Birmingham Mail “…Simmer Down is the ultimate uplifting and family-friendly event.”

Simmer Down Festival is over for another year.

As the fastest growing and most diverse festival in Birmingham, the Simmer Down Festival in 2015 attracted a massive crowd to the beautiful surroundings of Handsworth Park.

The free family fun-day festival which celebrates Birmingham’s rich cultural diversity by paying tribute to the centrality of reggae and other musical genres that make it such a city of culture.

There was a wide range of performances from local musicians and dancers on our second stage to reggae-bhangra fusion, lover’s rock and global reggae superstar, Maxi Priest on our Main Stage.

Off stage, there was plenty of fun activities for all the family including workshops, face painting, bouncy castles and slides for the kids, a community cricket match. There was also a showcase of Birmingham’s diverse cuisine at the various stalls.

We have an overwhelming response on social media as well as a glowing review by Birmingham Mail who said “…Simmer Down is the ultimate uplifting and family-friendly event.” Click here to read the full article.

Now into its sixth year Simmer Down has certainly established itself as part of the city’s festivals calendar.

Afrovibes Global Choir – Can you sing? If so… join us!

To mark the opening of Afrovibes 2014 the words of Nelson Mandela have been set to music in a specially commissioned traditional English choral piece, to be sung by a virtual choir. To take part in this worldwide event, you are invited to upload a recording of your voice and join us as Afrovibes marks the 20th Anniversary of democracy in South Africa.

The finished performance, entitled No Easy Road to Freedom, will be very much a tribute to the South African freedom struggle and its video will launch the Afrovibes festival in October.

Click here to download all you need to join in this exciting project – and please tell your friends: we hope that they will want to join in as well.

No Easy Road to Freedom has been created for Afrovibes by MD Tim Cumper and the team at South Hill Park Arts Centre in Bracknell, Berkshire, as their special contribution to this year’s festival. People from all over the country, and the world, are being invited to share their voices in this global commission.

The deadline for your finished recording to be submitted is 11pm on Fri 12 Sep, to give the technical team time to create the final mix.

To view a virtual choir performance, please click here. We hope you’ll enjoy taking part in ours.

Check out all the events that are taking place at The Drum as part of Afrovibes 2014