Reopening dawns for Britain's first arts centre - mac

The £15 million redevelopment of the Midland Arts Centre or MAC as it's more commonly known will be unveiled after nearly two years of construction and a decade of planning, opening on May 1 Midlands Arts Centre ready to reopen after £15m revamp.

The original buildings, developed in the sixties, have been expanded and revamped to attract more artists, performers and visitors.

Key improvements include a new gallery, larger theatre, performing arts studio and disabled access.

Sally Luton, regional executive director for Arts Council England West Midlands, said: “The Mac team have created an extraordinary and beautiful space. Midlands Arts Centre ready to reopen after £15m revamp

The centre, officially titled The Midlands Arts Centre for Young People, is regarded as Britain's first arts centre and was the brainchild of John English, a former industrial chemist with a passion for theatre whose ideas were supported by Sir Frank Price, the dynamic leader of the City in the 1960s known for ripping out the Victorian heart of the city. English's vision was "a campus arts centre in a park" which would introduce children and young people to the theatre,

The centre opened in 1963 and was seen initially by critics as being paternalistic with it's membership basis and middle-class ethos. The centre went through changing times reflecting the changes of the post 1960's world with a drinks licence amongst many developments that seemed at odd with English's vision. Some of English's vision was unfulfilled such as his Swan Theatre plans with the existing 200 seat studio theatre planned as a training theatre. Other developments were the addition of a cinema and moves to exhibition space and developments in mime, dance and physical theatre. mac is the most visited arts centre in the West Midlands with more than 500,000 visitors a year with over 21 per cent of it's user from Black and minority ethnic audiences and 43 per cent of it's audience aged 25 and under.

The newly-refurbished Mac will be unveiled to the public on May 1 with a programme of events following the £13.6 milion project which has been jointly funded by the Arts Council England, Birmingham City Council and a Mac and Sampad, South Asian arts organisation, fundraising campaign. The development has aimed to dramatically improve physical access - creating a more effective and efficient arts centre.

Plan, elevations and images of the redevelopment

Construction work on the redevelopment

The mac's website:


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