Imagineer commissioned a special aerial dance to mark the completion – on time and on budget – of building works on the £2.5million Daimler Powerhouse. Aerialists Luka Owen and Daniel Connor performed with a Fork Lift Truck, in a nod to Daimler’s engineering past, as the key to the building was handed from Robert Wigley from the Wigley Group to Roger Medwell, Chair of Imagineer’s Board.

Led by Imagineer, the purpose-built Daimler Powerhouse Creation Centre will focus primarily on outdoor arts and provide much needed and dedicated fully accessible spaces for the production of outdoor and site-specific work becoming part of a network of growing national and international creation centres.

The £2.5million creative hub has been funded through £1.9 million from the Cultural Capital Investment Fund which is resourced from Coventry City Council and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal.

Roger Medwell of Imagineer opens the Daimler Powerhouse
L – R: Dancers Daniel Connor and Luka Owen.
Photograph by Andrew Moore. © Imagineer.

The Wigley Group, which owns Sandy Lane Business Park and have undertaken the development work, have contributed an additional £350,000 as well as agreeing a highly-discounted 20-year lease on Daimler Powerhouse, as well as a neighbouring building, as part of the redevelopment. Additional funding has been raised from The Foyle Foundation, Medwell-Hyde, The Garfield Weston Foundation and The May 29th 1961 Charitable Trust.

With building works complete, the interior of the creation centre will be completed over the coming months. £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.

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.”

Dancers: Daniel Connor and Luka Owen.
Roger Medwell of Imagineer receives the keys to the Daimler Powerhouse.
Photograph by Andrew Moore. © Imagineer.

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.”

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 Fork Lift 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.

Cllr David Welsh, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, said: “The redevelopment of Daimler Powerhouse is a really important example of the city’s past and it’s future, and the investment the Council, and so many other partners, are putting into cultural venues in the city.

“It’s a building that has been a part of the city’s landscape for many years and it will be great to see artists using the Powerhouse to create, innovate and share their art with others.

“This is one of a number of important capital schemes that are either underway or near completion and it will be wonderful to see the venue close-up.”

Dancers – Luka Owen and Daniel Connor
Fork Lift Truck courtesy of KBTransport with Mike Beesley driving.
Photograph by Andrew Moore. © Imagineer.

Zamurad Hussain, board director at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This creative hub fits in with the CWLEP’s Strategic Reset Framework to build on our area’s strengths to encourage enterprise and innovation and this certainly meets those objectives.

“It is wonderful that this is happening while Coventry is UK City of Culture and that we can enjoy its history as well as its future for many years to come.”

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England: “We are delighted to have invested National Lottery funding to help restore the Daimler Building back to its former glory and to be supporting a state of the art space for Imagineer and other local artists to create work.

“As Coventry gears up for its year as City of Culture, places like the Daimler Powerhouse will play a crucial role in nurturing the talent and producing the work that the city has to offer, especially after what has been a very challenging time for all of us. Now that we’re hopefully on the road to recovery, we look forward to this unique space inspiring many future generations of creative people.”

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.”

As well as providing a home for Imagineer’s innovative education and training programmes aimed at young people and people with disabilities, The Daimler Powerhouse will also be home to five resident companies Imagineer, Highly Sprung, Media Mania, Open Theatre and Talking Birds.

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.
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