Aston arts center The Drum to close its Doors for Good

The long-standing institution is set to close down after 22 years due to lack of sufficient funding.


“We understand this is a challenging and distressing time.”

The Drum Arts Center in Aston, which originally planned to undergo a major extension, is set to close its doors in June after a staggering 22 years unless a new source of funding can be found.

The Birmingham arts establishment, which has hosted performances from the likes of singers Laura Mvula, Mary Wilson and comedian Richard Blackwood, is well known for the annual free Simmer down Festival in Handsworth Park, which has previously seen performances from Street Pulse and Apache Indian.

Specialising in entertainment from the Afro-Caribbean and Asian community, the centre is on the site of the Aston Hippodrome, a major variety theatre which has seen performances from Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Judy Garland.

Newton Cultural Project, the organisation behind The Drum, has taken the difficult decision to wind down and liquidate, unless a new source of funding is found.

Events advertised between now and June are still set to take place as planned.

The centre is currently funded by Birmingham City Council, the Arts Council and its own events.

Trustee Margaret Wellington said: “We hope that the winding down process will give us breathing space and the opportunity to find solutions so we don’t have to close.

“A lot of factors have come together, financial and other considerations, so that we couldn’t see another way out.”

Sharon Palmer, chairman of the board, said: “After months of undergoing an organisational review, staff restructures and constant negotiations with funders, we can assure everyone that this decision was not taken lightly

“We genuinely feel for everyone affected by this decision, especially for all staff members and to artists who provided the cultural heart to audiences.

“Without them, The Drum would not have such a strong legacy we can all be proud of.

“It is important that the community come forward over the next few months to work together in ensuring this legacy is built upon for the future.”

Chief executive Charles Small said: “It would be a shame to lose such a valuable service.

“We can’t all rely on everything being in the city centre. Birmingham is a large place and we need cultural and arts facilities throughout the city, especially in areas of real need.”

Area director of Arts Council England, Peter Knott, said: “We understand this is a challenging and distressing time.

“We remain committed to ensuring that Aston’s communities continue to have access to great arts and culture and will continue to work with Birmingham City Council to maintain our investment in the area.”




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