The Baroness Floella Benjamin Young Rep Hub Opening
We are thrilled that the Baroness Floella Benjamin Young Rep Hub, our dedicated space for young people and communities, is now formally open. In a moving ceremony, the Hub was opened by Baroness Floella Benjamin, DBE, (The Rep’s Patron of Youth and Education) who not only gave an inspiring speech but also serenaded the guests with a beautiful rendition of Charlie Chaplain’s song Smile.
Baroness Floella Benjamin said:
I am absolutely thrilled to have officially opened the Baroness Floella Benjamin Young Rep Hub. It’s clear that children desperately need to be exposed to the arts and creativity from a very early age because childhood lasts a lifetime and what better place than at the Hub. It’s wonderful that young people and local community groups will have access to this creative space. It speaks to the inclusivity work that I, and others, have long championed. This space is there to bring people together and foster a collaborative spirt through art and culture. I look forward to the creative work it inspires.”
Alex Summers, The Rep’s Director of Creative Learning, said:
The Rep has always had a strong ‘for/with/by’ young people ethos, but now that’s matched by a physical investment in a permanent workshop space, video editing equipment and hot desks. It’s also a home for all our participants and projects, including adult and community groups, the brilliant youth board, Young Rep youth theatre, school groups and work experience programme. It will enable new partnerships, new plays and new creative careers – the value of this cannot be overstated. We look forward to hearing from professionals of the future that this is the place where it all started for them.”
Rachael Thomas, The Rep’s Executive Director, and Sean Foley, The Rep’s Artistic Director, said:
The Rep’s acclaimed learning and community outreach programme is one of the largest and most diverse of any arts organisation in the country. Every year we have over 70,000 contacts with young people and adults in the community on projects from drama or writing workshops to large-scale productions. Whilst we have invested in growing activities, our facilities have not kept pace with this. With the addition of the Hub, the first of its kind in the city, it will enable us to increase our work within the West Midlands and our own constituency of Ladywood, providing more support and opportunities for the next generation and placing young people further at the heart of the theatre’s youth activities.”
Commenting on the opening of the hub, members of Stories of Hope and Home said:
We are a family of people who come from all over the world. We create a safe space where people who have fled danger and are seeking safety and are making a new home here can cry and laugh together, and share love and our lives as one family.
We meet regularly at The Rep and we are very, very happy that this place has opened its doors and welcomed us. When looking at it from outside, people like us, asylum seekers and refugees, might not always feel we can enter. We could honestly never have imagined we would have the opportunities we have had here. We are very happy The Rep made the decision to create this Hub space. We are excited about continuing to work together in the future.”
The Baroness Floella Benjamin Young Rep Hub has been made possible by the generous support of The 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust and HSBC UK, the main sponsor, through its Supporting our Community (SoC) funding scheme.
Mwange Malawo, HSBC UK Local Director (Birmingham Market), said:
HSBC UK’s SoC funding scheme creates opportunities for our colleagues to support charitable initiatives that have a lasting and positive impact on local communities. Many thanks to Kat Oliver and the New Street branch team for their work here.
We are so excited for The Baroness Floella Benjamin Young Rep Hub’s launch. We have been inspired by their inclusive approach to providing a safe space for young people, regardless of socio economic background, to delve into creative expression and arts within Birmingham.”
The Baroness Floella Benjamin Young Rep Hub will become a base from which The Rep can run a range of its community outreach activities, including: Young Rep, the theatre’s renowned youth theatre company; sessions for community adult drama groups; Summer Schools and refugee and asylum seeker community sessions.