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 By R.L Bartholomew


Tuesday, July 23, 2013.


Nu Century Arts is a performing arts company that brings creative ideas to the heart of Britain’s Black community.


Now they are about to launch a new and innovative performance space - THE BACK YARD - right in the back garden area of their offices in Hamstead Road, Handsworth!



The new venue will be officially unveiled with a celebration of music, dance, drama and spoken word on  Saturday September 7th, from 1pm-8pm. Soweto Kinch, the multi-award winning saxophonist will headline the event -and will join with rapper Jonzi D as MC for the launch.

Due to limited space, attendance will be by first come, first served only. Call the Nu Century office ASAP to book your seat.


THE BACK YARD is the latest addition to a stable of Nu Century projects that have grown audiences and have assisted the development of artistic communities in Birmingham and across the West Midlands.


Established Nu Century initiatives include the popular LIVE BOX and the internationally successful Flyover Show at Hockley underpass, which has attracted artistes the calibre of Speech Debelle, Goldie and Maxi Priest to perform there.



Artistic Director Don Kinch has high hopes for the new venture; and he believes that small, embedded, neighbourhood-based performance spaces may well be the creative answer to continuing austerity.



“THE BACK YARD will stand out as a venue in the heart of the community,” says Don.  “It will carry a big sign at the front of the building. It will be clear what it is and will say what it does. It will let local people know what's on and when it's on.  It will also let people know how they can get involved.



THE BACK YARD was named to have a special significance and appeal to people from African Caribbean backgrounds.   According to Don, Jamaican heritage audiences in particular will connect with it at two levels (1) The garden and (2) Back-A-Yard as in back home in Jamaica. Others will connect with the idea of personal ownership and the sense of playing in one’s very own back yard or garden.



Plans for the creative space reveal a boldly executed concept, influenced by the performing arts, that is both aesthetic and functional. The dimensions are approximately 30m x 15m of the entire garden.  It will feature a Truss Roof covered stage 4mx4mx3m with timber decking, gravel and paving for the audience areas. Attractive mosaic stepping stones are being used to decorate the flooring and cabaret style seating is meant to emphasise the uniqueness of the occasion.


Access to the venue would be through Henderson House, the main building that houses Nu Century Arts, and there will also be a side entrance and exit from Hamstead Road.


The aim will be for a vibrant and yet intimate setting that allows for creativity and freedom of expression. The space can be also utilised as an area of peace, tranquillity and relaxation.


Development of new audiences and local talent will be key priorities for the new venue - as well as providing greater access for local people who want to get into the performing arts.



 “ASK FOR THE KEY" is a BACK YARD idea designed to encourage community members to come and take part in activities ranging from attending  meetings to learning to play  instruments or to leading classes.



Jennifer Riley, of Nu Century Arts says:  “We will be saying to local people ‘don’t wait for us to organise an activity for you, take the key and organise activities yourselves and we will facilitate’.   This we believe will impact on both local artists and the community at large and create a personal connection and interest in artistic activity at the venue and across the city.


The new neigbourhood-based venue will link with a considerable network of international artists developed by Nu Century Arts. The venue will add a national and international dimension to its programme by drawing on connections with internationally renowned Birmingham-based artists such as Julie Dexter, Soweto Kinch, Laura Mvula, Shabaka Hutchings, Neil Charles and others such as Empirical, Femi Tomowo, Eska Mtungwazi, Invisible and Ayanna Witter who have all grown through and benefited from our Live Box project. 


THE BACK YARD will also draw on international links with L'Acadco Dance Company (Jamaica) Stage One Theatre Company (Barbados) The South African State Theatre (South Africa) Ghana National Theatre (Ghana) Nordic Black Theatre (Norway). The aim will be to broaden the experience for local artists and residents and at the same time offer new ground and new opportunities for local artists to expand their work


“THE BACK YARD,” says Don, “Is the child of austerity.  It ‘s going to be a  small and inviting artistic space, and one whose aim is to have an international reach.





0121 523 5551


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