Imagineer celebrate the opening of the Daimler Powerhouse Creation Centre

 
Aerialists Luka Owen and Daniel Connor perform with a fork lift truck at the opening of the Daimler Powerhouse Creation Centre

This week, we’re excited to be celebrating the launch of the new purpose-built Daimler Powerhouse Creation Centre in Sandy Lane Business Park, following a £2.5 million redevelopment project over the last few months.

Led by Imagineer, the project has seen Coventry’s iconic Daimler Powerhouse transformed into a dedicated arts and culture hub, focusing primarily on the production of outdoor and site-specific work.

As well as providing a home for Imagineer’s innovative education and training programmes aimed at young people and people with disabilities the building will also serve as a base for four other resident companies: Highly Sprung Performance Co, Talking Birds, Media Mania and Open Theatre.

Funded with £1.9 million from the Cultural Capital Investment Fund (resourced from Coventry City Council and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal), the redevelopment work has been undertaken by the Wigley Group, which owns Sandy Lane Business Park and has contributed an additional £350,000 to the project.

Additional funding has been secured via The Foyle Foundation, Medwell-Hyde, The Garfield Weston Foundation and The May 29th 1961 Charitable Trust. Building works are now complete, and a further £150,000 from Arts Council England will ensure state of the art infrastructure is embedded within the building, including a sound recording studio and edit suite, as well as a newly installed sprung dance floor and vertical dance wall.

Aerialists Luka Owen and Daniel Connor perform with a fork lift truck. Standing in front of the truck are Roger Medwell, Chenine Bhathena, Robert Wigley, David Welsh and Zamurad Hussain

Aerialists Luka Owen and Daniel Connor perform with a fork lift truck. Standing in front of the truck are Roger Medwell, Chenine Bhathena, Robert Wigley, David Welsh and Zamurad Hussain

To mark the official handing over of the keys to the building yesterday, Imagineer commissioned a special aerial dance piece, performed by Luka Owen and Daniel Connor. In a nod to Daimler’s engineering past, the performance included the use of a forklift truck, and saw ceremonial keys passed from Wigley Group’s Robert Wigley to Roger Medwell, Chair of Imagineer’s Board.

Roger Medwell, Chair of the Board for Godiva Awakes Trust said: “It really is testament to the dedication of our partners and funders that, even during these challenging times, building works are complete on time and on budget.

“The Wigley Group have done a fantastic job of preserving and maintaining the heritage of the building whilst also creating a modern and accessible space that will support not just Imagineer and the resident companies but the outdoor arts sector as a whole.

“Daimler Powerhouse will be a space for future generations of artists and creative engineers and it is wonderful to see the building coming to life again.”

James Davies, managing director of The Wigley Group, said: “Imagineer has been based at our Sandy Lane Business Park for many years and we have been working with them on plans for a creative hub for a considerable amount of time, so it’s great to see it almost ready to open.

“This has been a joint project with a number of partners to create a cultural legacy on a site of great historical importance to the city and we look forward to seeing how it can develop the talents of existing and emerging artists and creatives well beyond this important year for Coventry as UK City of Culture.

“The Powerhouse is of course the first phase of the wider regeneration of the business park and in the coming weeks we will be bringing forward detailed proposals for phase two of our plans to create a vibrant new neighbourhood for living and work, culture and leisure.”

Performers Luka Owen and Daniel Connor receive the keys to the Daimler Powerhouse from Robert Wigley

Performers Luka Owen and Daniel Connor receive the keys to the Daimler Powerhouse from Robert Wigley

The Daimler Building has long had a reputation as a centre of excellence from the manufacture of the first bicycle, the location of the first car factory in Britain to the creators of the first forklift truck and as a specialist engine factory for high-performance engines powering four F1 World Champions. Now, Coventry will once again lead the way nationally, and internationally, Daimler Powerhouse will be a creative centre of excellence combining art, environment, engineering and social change.

Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “Today is a significant moment on the road to opening the Daimler Powerhouse. This new creation centre in the heart of the Coventry Canal’s creative corridor, will be a laboratory for new artistic innovation. 

"It will support the city’s growing arts economy in the city, creating a new destination that will not only bring audiences, but will attract a wide range of talent from across the UK and farther afield to come and create work in Coventry and collaborate with our amazing creatives.

“I can’t wait to see this new centre spring to life, and am excited to be working with all of the Powerhouse’s artistic residents to create new shows within our UK City of Culture year.”

Daimler Powerhouse will open to the public in August 2021 as part of Coventry’s UK City of Culture Programme with a weekend of special events, performances and opportunities to visit the building.

Roger Medwell stands in the open doorway of the new Daimler Powerhouse Creation centre with performers Luka Owen and Daniel Connor  on either side

Roger Medwell stands in the open doorway of the new Daimler Powerhouse Creation centre with performers Luka Owen and Daniel Connor on either side