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Jasmin Vardimon secures funding for creative laboratory in Ashford

Published: 09/12/2020
Six Jasmin Vardimon Company members during a performance

Work on building the Jasmin Vardimon Creative Laboratory and 29 light industrial units on a Kent County Council owned site in Javelin Way, is scheduled get under way in January. This follows the appointment of the Ramsgate-based construction company WW Martin Ltd, to carry out the work.

The Creative Laboratory, due to open in Spring 2022, will be a major new arts facility for the county, providing a long-term base for internationally renowned dance company Jasmin Vardimon Company who have been resident in Kent, and a key partner in the county’s cultural infrastructure, since 2012.

The growth of the company, and in particular the rapid development of its acclaimed education and training programme, means it is in urgent need of more room in which to operate. The new building will include space for the creation of the company’s touring productions, as well as for rehearsals, training, educational and community classes, plus incubator spaces for small creative businesses.

The new facility has been made possible by success in securing £3.069m of capital investment from Arts Council England, alongside £750,000 from Ashford Borough Council (ABC) from the Business Rates Retention Pilot and investment of £578,724 secured by KCC from the Getting Building Fund administered by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP).

Jasmin Vardimon Education Company runs classes, and workshops locally, nationally, and internationally. Participation continues to increase with the company offering more than 350 sessions during 2019-20 and reaching more than 1,700 participants.

Building upon these achievements the company is on course to increasing its participation and engagement numbers during the four-year period following its move into the new building with a predicted engagement of 8,000 Ashford residents and a further 5,000 across Kent.

Six Jasmin Vardimon Company members during a performance

The company continues to build strong relationships with about 60 schools and colleges in Kent and to connect with creative and community organisations across the region alongside collaboration and investment from businesses.

As well as the construction of a creative laboratory production space, with an area of 13,530sq ft, the development will also provide 29 light industrial units with an area of 47,163 sq ft for sale and/or lease, suitable for additional creative businesses as well as the general market.

The light industrial units are an enabling development with the income from the sales making a contribution to the cost of the creative laboratory. They 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.

In the interim period before the building is ready JVC has relocated to the Designer Outlet, taking on two units for offices, training and community engagement. Ashford Borough Council also agreed to supplement JVC relocation needs by providing a unit on the Carlton Road Business Park for the purposes of set construction. The council funding has come from the Business Rates Retention Pilot monies that aims to support housing and commercial growth in the borough.

Mike Hill, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “I am delighted that the grant from the Getting Building Fund will enable this exciting project to come to fruition.
Kent County Council has been a long-time supporter of the Jasmin Vardimon Company, whose work is recognised nationally and internationally.

"Having been based in Ashford over several years, Jasmin and her company have played a vital role in raising the county’s creative and cultural profile. This project will provide a high-quality facility for the company and we look forward to seeing its further development.”

Ian Ross, Executive Director for Jasmin Vardimon, said: "We are delighted with this news and it is testament to the continued support for the arts and culture in Ashford and Kent.

“Our new home will provide not only a high quality creative base for our own work but also enable us to expand our connection with the local community and support emerging talent. We would like to thank our partners Arts Council England, Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council who have worked with us to make this project a reality."

Three Jasmin Vardimon Company members during a performance

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council said: “The Jasmin Vardimon Company is one of Britain’s flagship dance and theatre companies, and we are delighted they chose Ashford as the location for their dance studio.

“This project to provide more cultural space for the Jasmin Vardimon Dance Academy to expand their offer and able to share their inspiring work with local audiences. We look forward to them being able to showcase the art of dance and choreography here and ensure local audiences can take part in their inspiring work.”

Peter Heslip, South East Director, Arts Council England, said: “Jasmin Vardimon Dance Company is at a really exciting point in its development and we’re very pleased to be supporting them thanks to National Lottery funding.

“The Creative Laboratory will be at the heart of new nationally important creative hub in Ashford, providing world-class training and facilities for dancers, whilst also ensuring that the local community has access to high-quality creative experiences.”