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Secretary of State for Culture opens the High House Production Park

  • Date: 7 December 2010
  • Area: South East
Building with arched roof

Completed Royal Opera House Bob and Tamar Manoukian Workshop at the High House Production Park, Thurrock. Credit: Rob Moore

Secretary of State for Culture Jeremy Hunt opened the UK's first national centre of excellence for technical skills, crafts and production for the performing arts and live music industries in Thurrock in December 2010.

The £60 million High House Production Park is home to the Royal Opera House's purpose-built scenery construction facilities - complete with public viewing gallery, and community areas including: a café, meeting and exhibition spaces and larger function rooms. Phase two of the development, in 2012, will see the launch of National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural flagship building and the addition of enterprise spaces for artists and creative businesses.

Designed to be a hub for the creative and cultural industries, the 14-acre High House Production Park is an example of culture-led regeneration. It will create 250 jobs, and provide 11,000 training places through the National Skills Academy.

The official launch of the Royal Opera House Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop was marked, on 6 December, by the world premiere of the Purfleet Opera Ludd and Isis. Inspired by the production park's historic High House farm site, the community opera was created by the Royal Opera House education team and more than 1,000 local people from the Thurrock area. Opera audiences also enjoyed a Victorian-style fairground based on the last Purfleet Fair 100 years ago and a modern art installation by Tony Hornecker.

Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, said: 'The new High House Production Park symbolises the successful collaboration in the creative industries between the public and private sectors. And to open our new state of the art workshop with a new opera created by the local community is just wonderful. Professionals and non-professionals have been working together tirelessly for a long time now to create a spectacular performance rooted in the local history, starting with archaeological digs and ending with a full-scale world premiere!

'I have been so impressed by the commitment shown by the local residents, and the staff and pupils from the Thurrock schools, and the fun everyone has had in making the opera come to life. I am grateful to Arts Council England and to Thurrock Council for supporting our community and education work in the area.'

The High House Production Park and its contribution to the regeneration of Thurrock has been made possible by a partnership of private and public funders:

  • Arts Council England
  • Capital Shopping Centres Group PLC
  • Department for Communities and Local Government
  • East of England Development Agency
  • National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural
  • Royal Opera House
  • Thurrock Council
  • Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation

Over the past three years, Arts Council England has significantly invested not only in the building of the Royal Opera House Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop but also in a community and education programme that has so far engaged 24,000 Thurrock residents, and over £3 million in a Creative Partnerships programme of work that has reached 120 schools in South Essex.

Andrea Stark, Executive Director, Arts Council England, said: 'This development is an excellent example of how an arts organisation, supported by Arts Council England, can work with government departments, local authorities and regeneration companies in order to transform the opportunities for young people and communities to engage with great art, raising aspirations and creating pathways into training and employment in the sector. This very much reinforces Arts Council England's ambition to achieve great art for everyone.'