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mac celebrates its 50th anniversary with a year of celebrations

  • Date: 19 July 2012
  • Area: Midlands
a small girl playing with a wooden mobile hanging from the ceiling

The launch of mac at 50. Credit: Anthea Bevan

mac in Birmingham has launched its 50th anniversary celebrations with the opening of The Playmakers a new exhibition which reflects its history.

It opened in 1962 and was one of the UK's first arts centres for children and young people.

Recent re-development of the building saw it re-open in 2010 after a two-year £15m building project which transformed the centre into an iconic, multi-purpose cultural complex ready for the 21st century.

The expansion and refurbishment project brought together originally separate buildings through a clever architectural design into a new light and airy space opening a full vista to the adjoining park.

The scheme was a partnership between mac and sampad, the national agency for South Asian Arts, which is based in the centre.

Arts Council England awarded a £6.2m grant from the National Lottery and Birmingham City Council provided £6.7m.  A successful mac/sampad capital appeal provided the rest.

Since opening in 1962, mac has welcomed millions of visitors and artists from both round the corner and around the world.

Their latest exhibition, The Playmakers (until 9 September), has been created by Japanese artists KOSUGE1-16 to draw from mac birmingham's past.

The interactive installation encourages children and adults to play with lots of cause-and-effect features such as life-size puppets of John English and his wife Alicia (Mollie) Randle, who initiated mac as a cultural institution.

The Playmakers is the first part of 'mac at fifty' - a special programme of events, activities and exhibitions to mark their 50th year. stunning exhibition/performance piece which was first shown at the centre in February 2011.

Dorothy Wilson, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of mac birmingham commented: "mac is celebrating 50 years of inspiring artists, communities, businesses and audiences. This is a perfect opportunity to shine a light on all that is best and lasting of the centre's focus on providing unparalleled opportunities for creativity."

Ros Robins, West Midlands Director with Arts Council England, said: "Many congratulations to mac for reaching their 50th year and being such a successful arts venue.

"Arts Council England is proud to have contributed to the funding of the £15million building project and which revitalised the facilities. mac continues to go from strength to strength appealing to all ages and communities with their wide programme of activities.

"Arts Council England continues to provide regular funding to mac birmingham and we wish them well for the next 50 years!"

For more information visit mac.