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!




February – August 2016

Theatre | Comedy | Spoken Word | Music|  Dance | Exhibitions | Music

The Drum is putting out a call for submissions for productions and performances for its Spring & Summer 2016 programme which launches in February – August 2016. We’re interested in hearing from artists, promoters, producers, production companies, musicians and performers, who have product or tours that they would like to submit for consideration for this period.

All submissions/proposals need to be received by Monday 12 October 2015 and must include the following supporting information:
·Name, contact details of company or artist(s)
·Biographical details of artist(s) and company
· Synopsis of the piece / gig
· Running Time
· High quality colour and, if available, black and white images
(min 300 dpi at 10cm square, ideally a file size of 1MB or over.)
· Press reviews of previous shows/events (if available)
. Audience feedback from previous or current show (if available)
· Tour Schedule (if applicable)
· Any product, CDs, books, tapes, web and social media links etc
· Any additional special information

The Drum is the UK’s premier intercultural arts centre dedicated to the development, presentation and celebration of arts and cultural activities.

Please address all submissions/proposals to Jennie Gentles, Interim Head of Marketing & Arts and email to j.gentles@the-drum.org.uk or send them to The Drum, 144 Potters Lane, Aston, Birmingham, B6 4UU. 

somewhereto_Exhibit Grand Unveiling

somewhereto_Exhibit Grand Unveiling
Thursday 17 September, 6pm

Next Thursday we are excited to be hosting the unveiling of the unique designs of young rising talents in partnership with somewhereto_WM.

The exhibition will see our tables in the Café Bar being transformed with the remarkable designs of young artists: Ayesha Jones, Tom Xiao Ji, Idriss Assoumanous, Zara Skyes and Cassandra Wiggan.

The featured designs were selected as the best of all the submissions to somewhereto_WM. Expect to see each artist’s stories reflected in their designs, which we are sure, will spark conversations.

somewhereto_  works across the UK to link free events and urban spaces to give young creative minds the opportunity to fulfill their passions. Working countrywide, somewhereto_ have a wide range of spaces which have been donated for the use of creative individuals and aim to match the right space to each individual’s needs, in their local area. For more information on somewhereto_ visit  somewhereto.com/

Featured artist, Zara Sykes commented on her experience ‘somewhereto_WM has really given me a boost in acknowledging and supporting me not only as a music artist but as an Artist’s champion I strive to encourage and support where I can. The Drum has been supportive over the years and it’s such an honour to have my art work displayed there.’

Pop into our Café Bar for a cuppa or a bite to eat and check out this exhibition which will be a permanent fixture at The Drum.

For more information, please contact our Box Office  on 0121 333 2444.


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.


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.

Mykal Rose, Etana and Cold Fever in Concert Cancelled

 Mykal Rose, Etana and Cold Fever in Concert Cancelled

The Drum regret to announce that the Mykal Rose, Etana and Cold Fever concert due to take place on Friday 11 September has been cancelled. The agency who organised the concert has confirmed that the UK tour will no longer be taking place. This cancellation is no fault of the venues on the tour or the artists.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused. Our Box Office will be touch to arrange refunds to those who have booked.

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



Young Drum starts this Saturday!

Young Drum had an awesome few months in the autumn. From hosting weekly sessions and end of term sharings to delivering summer school activity for Perry Beeches Academies, taking part in Black History Month and Afrovibes and attending a week-long arts and heritage residential at Ingestre Hall in the October half-term.  It was a busy but brilliant time and now we’re back, with our Dance & Drama Sessions starting this Saturday, from 12pm!

Drama & Dance Sessions on Saturdays, inc. Bugsy Malone, 12-4.30pm term-time

Every term we engage 60+ children and young people in drama and street dance sessions. Take part in beginners and advanced drama and dance sessions and join our Bugsy Malone production which will be followed by creating a devised performance. If you have mad crazy dance skills you may like to audition for Dance Elite and showcase your talents across the city.

Saturday Schedule

12-1pm: Beginners Dance and Advanced Drama

1-2pm: Advanced Drama and Beginners Drama

2-2.30pm: Break & Briefing

2.30-4pm: Dance Elite and Bugsy Malone Rehearsals

Weekdays include:

  • Music on Monday Nights (linked to monthly open mic night), 5-6.30pm
  • Spoken Word on Tuesday Nights (linked to open mic night), 6-7.30pm
  • Open Mic Nights on the First Tuesday of the month, at 7.30pm
  • Film & Photography on Thursday Nights, (with monthly film nights and summer 2015 exhibition), 5-6.30pm
  • Film night on 2nd Monday of the month, from 6-8pm

Join us, for Bugsy Malone!

Join Young Drum for our production of Bugsy Malone by Alan Parker. “A world of would-be gangsters, showgirls and dreamers… except there are no adults in the cast, only children…” Alan Parker. Join our 40 strong cast of young people and be entertained by this classic whilst being served drinks and canapés by the Young Drum artistic team. What’s not to love?! The Performances will be, Wed 25th FebThurs 26th Feb, and Fri 27th Feb, at 7pm, on Sat 28th Feb there will be two showings, a matinee at 2pm and another performance at 7pm. Tickets £3 (£2 concession).

  • Bugsy Malone Intensive rehearsals: Feb half term, Mon 16th Feb – Fri 20th Feb: 11-4pm.
  • Bugsy Malone Production Week: Sat 21st Feb (get-in) to Sun 1st March (get-out).

Arts Awards Drop in Sessions

We are committed to offering young people the chance to achieve an accreditation though working with us and offer a drop-in Arts Award session one hour before Mon, Tues, Thurs and Sat activity commences (Arts Award is available between 11-4pm on Saturdays). This is free and open to all Young Drum members.

Arts Award Club is run term time in café area at The Drum on:

  • Mondays 4-5pm
  • Tuesdays 5-6pm
  • Thursdays 5-6pm
  • Saturdays  11-4pm

Young Drum programme is open to children and young people aged from 7-25yrs.

Membership is just £30 per term or pay as you go at £3 per week.

Tickets available at Box Office: 0121 333 2444.

For more information, contact The Drum’s Head of Learning: r.richardson@the-drum.org.uk / 0121 333 2431.

Happy Holidays From The Drum

Dear Friends

The Drum Team would like to wish you all a fantastic festive break and happy New Year, and also thank you for all your support over the past year…

We will be closed from Wed 24 Dec until Mon 5 Jan 2015 due to the festive period:

You can still buy tickets for shows in Spring 2015, and take a look at our new Spring 2015 Brochure, which includes our Christmas Cracker Offers, available until Sun 18 Jan 2015!

We look forward to seeing you again soon…

Best wishes,
The Drum Team