The Drum, Birmingham

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The Drum

The Drum was an intercultural arts centre in the Newtown area of Aston, in Birmingham, England; originally established as the United Kingdom's national centre for Black British and British Asian arts. Activities included music, drama, spoken word, exhibitions, visual arts, comedy and dance.[1]


The Drum occupied the site of the former Aston Hippodrome,[2] which was a major variety theatre between 1908 and 1960. The Aston Hippodrome hosted performances by the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Judy Garland and Morecambe and Wise. The building was demolished in 1980, but in 1991 Birmingham City Council set up a project to create a new cultural facility on the site, specifically to reflect the highly diverse culture of the surrounding area.

The Drum started hosting events in 1994, the first being an exhibition called 'Negritude'. In 1996, the singer Cleo Laine accepted a cheque from the National Lottery on behalf of The Drum. The Drum was fully opened in 1998.

In October 2013, during Black History Month, The Drum was visited by then British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was shown around the venue by its CEO Charles Small.[3]

In 2014, poet Benjamin Zephaniah and musician Courtney Pine were made patrons of The Drum, using their influence to help raise funds for a refit of the venue.[4] In 2015, the establishment was approved[5] for its first major renovation and extension since it first opened.[6]

In March 2016, however, the decision was taken liquidate, amid financial troubles.[7][8] The announcement to close was caused outrage among community representatives and residents.[3] Birmingham musician Laura Mvula described the news as "terrible".[9] An online community petition to save the venue from closure was signed by 3,294 people but was unsuccessful in its campaign.

The Drum Arts Centre permanently closed its doors on 30 June 2016[10] and was reopened in September 2019 under new management as the Legacy Centre of Excellence, billed by its new owners as "Europe’s largest independent Black-owned Business and Arts Centre".[11][12]


The Drum had two auditoria, the 350-seat main auditorium and a 120-seat Andy Hamilton Studio, named after saxophonist Andy Hamilton. It also had an exhibition space, a cafe-bar, a business suite and a multimedia production suite.

The venue was also available for private hire.[13]

The Drum was located at 144 Potters Lane, Aston, Birmingham B6 4UU.[14]


  1. ^ "- The Drum". Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  2. ^ "The Hippodrome Theatre, Aston, Birmingham". Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b Brady, Poppy (1 April 2016). "Birmingham's Drum Arts Centre entering 'wind-down phase'". Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  4. ^ "The Drum | Theatre in Birmingham, Birmingham". Time Out Birmingham. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  5. ^ Jones, Tamlyn (10 June 2015). "New future for The Drum as major renovation gets green light". birminghampost. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  6. ^ Jones, Tamlyn (6 May 2015). "The Drum arts centre to undergo major extension". birminghampost. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  7. ^ "The Drum in Birmingham closes amid financial troubles | News | The Stage". The Stage. 14 April 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  8. ^ Laws, Roz (22 June 2016). "When is The Drum arts centre closing?". birminghammail. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Closure threat for leading arts centre". BBC News. 2 April 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  10. ^ Laws, Roz (1 April 2016). "The Drum arts centre in Aston set to close down after funding crisis". birminghammail. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  11. ^ James, Denise (10 September 2019). "New Legacy Centre for Black excellence launches in Birmingham on site of The Drum". I Am Birmingham. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  12. ^ "About Us – Legacy Centre Of Excellence". Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  13. ^ "- The Drum". Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  14. ^ "- The Drum". Retrieved 1 October 2018.

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Coordinates: 52°29′56″N 1°53′41″W / 52.4990°N 1.8946°W / 52.4990; -1.8946