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28 October 2014

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Barnet speeds cultural renaissance (November 2004)
Artsdepot exterior view
North Finchley's artsdepot has developed a community-focused approach to professional theatre and big-name draws

Inside the north London borough's new £14 million arts centre...

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Artsdepot is at Tally Ho Corner in north Finchley, London N12
Nearest tube: Woodside Park or West Finchley or Finchley Central and then bus
Tel: 020 8449 0048


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Barnet's newest arts centre has been unveiled in a bid to bring the West End to north London's doorstep at affordable prices.

Artsdepot, a £14 million venue, plans to introduce a host of diverse and high-profile artists and performers to the borough for the first time over the coming months.

video Interested in looking around the new Artsdepot building? Take our virtual tour and see the space as you hear Artsdepot's Claire Lewis guide you around. Real Player required

The north Finchley centre is home to two spacious, state-of-the-art theatres - the 400-seat Pentland and 150-seat Studio - an art gallery, dance studio, rehearsal rooms and educational facilities.

It took two-and-a-half years to build and represents a radical step-up from The Bull, previously Barnet's premier playhouse with a 177-seat capacity.

trial venue

Artsdepot patron Evelyn GlennieCulture Secretary Tessa Jowell attended last month's opening ceremony in the company of artsdepot patrons and supporters including percussionist Evelyn Glennie (pictured) and actors Miranda Richardson and Richard Wilson.

"What we will be able to find here is not just the cutting edge of the art forms and innovation," she said, "but this could be a trial venue for plays which are thinking of transferring to the West End."

She added that artsdepot's value came from the fact that it can and will be used by children and local groups to watch and perform theatre, dance and music.

Away from the hoopla of the opening, where guests quaffed sparkling wine and canapes while enjoying entertainment by dance company Shobana Jeyasingh, the centre has announced an ambitious line-up.

youth and adult participation

Over the coming months, comedians such as Al Murray and Mark Thomas rub shoulders with the likes of John Mortimer and John Hegley, while shows such as Stones in his Pockets and Rasa's Curry Tales fulfil the aim of appealing to the multi-ethnic make-up of the neighbourhood.

"The programme's very eclectic," says artsdepot's Claire Lewis. "We're covering the widest breadth of all the genres we can and appealing to everybody from eight to 80."

Kazzum Theatre Company's PinocchioOther upcoming shows include a Christmas production, Kazzum's contemporary adaptation of the boy-puppet favourite Pinocchio (pictured), and a promenade performance, New Lives, that weaves together real voices from local people.

The venue will also play host to regional dance and touring companies, local drama groups and projects in development, with a particular emphasis on youth and adult participation in the form of courses on tango, samba percussion, new writing, drama and storytelling.

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