Jacksons Lane grand reopening with building tours and circus workshops
- Credit: Polly Hancock
Jacksons Lane holds its grand reopening this weekend with building tours, circus workshops and demos, and a photo exhibition.
The Grade II listed Highgate arts centre has undergone a £4.5 million revamp to create new rehearsal studios, offices, toilets, seating, and an expanded cafe/bar.
The 170-seat venue has become fully accessible and a new entrance on Archway Road welcomes visitors into a hub of activity where circus performers are rehearsing; Ricky Gervais is trialling new material for his next tour; a three-month long Nordic arts festival is ongoing; and 40 community courses offer everything from hip-hop dance to light sabre duelling.
"It was quite an emotional moment when we opened the Nordic Festival," said artistic director Adrian Berry. "We are proud to show off the building finally. The delays have been frustrating, but the results are beautiful and we feel Jacksons Lane now has a future."
A community cultural hub since the 1970s, the former church had started to show its age. Since arriving in 2006, Berry has contended with a collapsed roof, burst boiler, ancient wiring, and inaccessible upper floor.
"We had to wheel out portable heaters during a sold out mime festival. I had definitely fallen out of love with the building," said Adrian, who has developed Jacksons Lane into a leading centre for contemporary circus theatre.
Without increasing the footprint, the airy foyer can now host music and spoken word events, and the studios are specially rigged for circus performers.
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Keeping ticket prices and rentals low for emerging artists, Jacksons Lane relies on hiring out its rehearsal spaces to West End shows, Strictly Come Dancing and even Harry Styles' latest video.
Plans include exciting collaborations with Dutch circus artists, and a Christmas show.
"What makes us unique is we are still a community space but with an international reputation for circus," says Berry. "We don't want to be one or the other."
Running free circus workshops for Tottenham schools, and programming family shows means it is a venue where young people can have their first experience of the arts and £where you can see something incredible that you won't see anywhere else in London".
Executive director Monique Deletant said: "The community was worried the building would lose its charm, but we love the design."
The renovation was funded by Arts Council England, Haringey Council and the Victoria Wood and Christina Smith Foundations, but more is needed to complete the fit out. Donate at www.jacksonslane.org.uk/donate-and-support/
Jacksons Lane reopening celebrations run April 2 and 3. Visit www.jacksonslane.org.uk/events/jacksons-lane-reopening-celebrations/