Creative hub taking shapePublished: 28/06/2021
One of Kent’s largest cultural infrastructure projects has achieved a major milestone in the development process.
Jasmin Vardimon Company’s new and much anticipated creative hub takes shape, promising a state-of-the-art facility for the internationally renowned dance company to expand its activities locally, nationally and on the global stage.
Councillors from Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council joined representatives from Arts Council England, the construction partners WW Martin, Jasmin Vardimon and her team to mark the topping out of the new building in Javelin Way.
Construction work on the 13,530sq ft site started in January and rapid progress has been made with the building’s structural skeleton now complete. The building will include space for the creation of the company’s touring productions and rehearsals, dedicated studios to accommodate the rapid growth of the company’s acclaimed educational programmes and community classes, plus incubator space for small creative businesses.
The primary creation space will also be available to hire by external creative companies, offering 19m x 22m studio space with 8 metres grid height, fully sprung dance floor and full lighting, sound and AV rig.
A new café and meeting rooms will also be available providing flexible spaces for the local community to get together. Any enquiries regarding external hire from Autumn 2022 can be directed to email@example.com.
The building will form the centre of a major new arts hub in Ashford, with a number of light industrial units formed over 47,163 sq ft for sale and/or lease to attract both creative businesses as well as the general market, within the new cultural quarter.
The light industrial units will also seek to support the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises in the post-pandemic world by providing opportunities for business development in the creative sector, as well as income from business rates.
The new facility is being built in partnership with Kent County Council and the scheme is piloting an innovative and unique approach by using the value of the industrial units as an enabling development to provide investment into a new cultural building.
In order to deliver the facility, capital investment has been secured from Arts Council England, the Cultural Recovery Fund’s Capital Kickstart Fund, Ashford Borough Council (ABC) from the Business Rates Retention Pilot (a fund which aims to support housing and commercial growth in the borough) and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Getting Building Fund.
Suzie Leighton, Chair of the Board of Directors Jasmin Vardimon Company, said: “We are tremendously excited about the opportunity that this building offers to centre ourselves as a key resource for the community.
"Culture and creativity are proven to play an important role in the development of good physical and mental health, and culture led regeneration is a crucial part of rebuilding vibrant and well used spaces within our towns and cities.
"As we emerge from lockdown, the company is really looking forward to collaborating with local people and businesses to tackle some of the issues within Kent and Ashford that Covid has made even more acute.”
Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Executive Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “The Jasmin Vardimon Company is one of Britain’s flagship international dance and theatre companies, and we are delighted they chose Ashford as the location for their dance studio. This creative hub will play its part in adding to the borough’s rich tapestry of heritage, culture and artistry.
"By providing more space for the Jasmin Vardimon Company, they can expand their international offer and they will be able to share their inspiring work with local audiences. We look forward to them being able to showcase their art of dance and choreography here in the heart of Ashford and ensure the local community can see and take part in their inspiring work.”