artsdepot is a vibrant arts centre in North Finchley in the London Borough of Barnet which has been open since October 2004. Each season it puts on an action-packed programme of creative events across the spectrum of theatre, music, dance, comedy, words, visual art and children's activities in its two theatres (the 400 seat Pentland and the 150 seat Studio), as well as the gallery, café, foyer, and education spaces. It also runs a range of inspirational educational and outreach projects throughout the borough and north London.
artsdepot works with some of the most exciting visiting companies and artists around to showcase a range of theatre styles from popular West End transfers to experimental and contemporary drama, profiling the work of new and emerging artists at events such as the depot untapped festival. artsdepot has worked with companies including Scarlet, Graeae, Kali, Tara Arts, Half Moon, The Reduced Shakespeare Company, Tamasha, Kazzum, Pilot and many more. There are regular shows for children and their families on most Sundays and during half term with companies like Tam Tam, Little Angel, Obelon Arts and Tall Stories. Children's performances feature everything from puppets to live stand-up comedy especially for kids. Each year artsdepot produces its own Christmas show. In 2006 artsdepot is excited to be working with Pilot Theatre to present The Twits by Roald Dahl.
artsdepot also has regular comedy nights with stars such as Gina Yashere, Lucy Porter, Mark Thomas, John Hegley and Felix Dexter and Jongleurs artists.
There are dance and music events, from jazz to world to classical, with artists such as Shobana Jeyasingh, Henri Oguike, Sakoba, Union Dance, Jon Bonfiglio, Jazz Jamaica, Yasmin Levy, Eduardo Niebla, English Touring Opera, Pegasus Opera, Cara Dillon and Martin Simpson.
Recent word events have featured Arnold Wesker, Roger McGough, Toyah Wilcox and Alexei Sayle.
artsdepot is fully accessible for people with disabilities. Lifts provide access to all levels of the centre and there are disabled toilet facilities throughout the building. There are spaces for wheelchairs in both of the theatres, though it is advisable to book tickets in advance. Assistance dogs for visitors with visual or hearing difficulties are permitted in the theatres - mention this to the box office staff when booking so that they can offer you an aisle seat and inform you of any special effects that might affect your dog. Both venues also have an induction loop and infra-red hearing assistance system.
Northern Line - Woodside Park and West Finchley are the closest stations (approx 15 mins / half a mile away) but Finchley Central tube has the best bus links along Ballards Lane, direct to artdepot's door (125, 460 and 82).
Piccadilly Line - Take the 221 to North Finchley from Wood Green, Bounds Green or Turnpike Lane stations (approx 20 mins away).
Bus: 82, 125, 460, 134, 263, 221
Car: There are around 400 Pay and Display parking spaces in borough run car parks on Castle Street, Lodge Lane, Woodhouse Road and Stanhope Road, all in close proximity to artsdepot. All the Borough's car parks are pay and display from Monday to Saturday 8am-6.30pm, and are unrestricted out of these hours; the maximum stay varies from 4 hours to all day.
There are also 47 Pay and Display parking spaces on Level Minus 1 underneath the artsdepot complex which are free after 6pm.
History of the theatre
artsdepot was conceived by the local community at a conference called Barnet 2000 which addressed what new and improved services the borough's residents would like to see in Barnet at the new Millennium. What emerged was an overwhelming need for more professional arts facilities, in fact a larger version of The Bull Arts Centre in High Barnet, which was then the only professional, if small, arts centre in the borough.
The London Borough of Barnet then put the project in motion and teamed up with developers Taylor Woodrow and The Bull Arts Centre's director, Alison Duthie, to develop plans for North Finchley's regeneration and what was to become artsdepot. The site on which artsdepot was built had been empty, apart from a weekly market that was relocated to the nearby Lodge Lane car park, for over 20 years, since the Gaumont cinema closed down in the 1970s and was later demolished in the 1980s.
Chris Baldwin, a specialist theatre designer from ACT Theatre Consultants, and John Thornbury, an architect from Ruddle Wilkinson, were appointed to design a major residential and commercial development, to contain a multi purpose art centre with performance and visual arts spaces.
In December the project was officially launched by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell, when the building works began and the name, artsdepot, was unveiled.
The "Topping Out Ceremony" marked the end of the building works. Actor and artsdepot patron Miranda Richardson skimmed off the top of the last concrete brick and contractors MJ Gleeson circled a lucky yew tree around the near completed building with their huge crane.
A number of pre-opening events around the borough included the extremely popular Play! Children's festival at Friary Park, which attracted over 10,000 people, and a season of pre-launch events at The Bull.
artsdepot opened to the public for the first time on Saturday 23 October and welcomed over 2,500 visitors through its doors for its Community Open Day. This was followed by a unique family day on Sunday 24 October under the banner of Play! Children's Arts Festival, catering for a further 1,500 young children and families.
On Tuesday 26 October North Finchley laid out the red carpet for HRH The Earl of Wessex who officially declared the building open and unveiled a ceremonial plaque.
The glitz and glamour continued at artsdepot's VIP guest and press launch where dignitaries from the arts world, funding bodies and the press toasted the success of the building and enjoyed specially commissioned performances from the Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company and world renowned classical percussionist Evelyn Glennie.
artsdepot's first season (October - December 2004) was an extremely busy and exciting one, with a record number of sold out performances and an influx of positive comments and words of encouragement from local residents and new audiences.
The work goes on as artsdepot continues to serve the diverse groups of its local community and surrounding areas with exciting projects including Asian theatre and dance events, a Japanese themed family day, film-making with local Somali children, and a residency with CandoCo Dance Company among others