Bromsgrove's Artrix has plenty to offer in 2013

By Tristan Harris Wednesday 02 January 2013 Updated: 05/02 13:00

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AS IT gears up for 2013, it has been revealed that Bromsgrove's Artrix had more than 100,000 people come through its doors during 2012, for the second year running.

The art centre's impressive line-up included pantomime, opera, a variety of live music from rock to classical, films, workshops and more.

The arts centre's director Andy Woods said the audiences had been going up year-on-year.

"We are finding the people who come here come to see a lot more things than they did in the beginning," he added.

The most interesting aspect about Artrix's 2012 audience figures is that they went down in July during the Olympics, but went up afterwards to such an extent that it made up for the financial shortfall.

He added Artrix had allowed for London 2012 and had put less on for while the games were taking place and more afterwards.

"We had a really busy autumn and were able to claw back the turnover," said Andy.

And he added, the arts centre's new £30,000 state-of-the-art digital projector system, which it invested in last year, will be a fantastic attribute in 2013.

As well as leading to better picture and sound quality for showings, it has also meant the centre now gets films closer to their release date.

That is because, with the system it has now, it is easier for movie makers to distribute their films and a the top-of-the-range security system, included in the £30,000, ensures the pictures are safeguarded against bootlegging.

Screenings throughout January will include Madagascar 3, festive flick Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger, Great Expectations and The Hobbit.

And it was a cinema production which yielded the best audience figures for the centre in 2012 - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel sold out everytime it was shown and was screened several times. Contrary to national trends, it even out-performed the venue's showings of the latest Bond movie Skyfall.

Another important development to have come about because of the new projection system is that, from this month, Artrix will be screening live streams from The National Theatre in London as the shows actually take place.

The first one will be The Magistrate on January 17 and there will also be Alan Bennett's new play People on March 26.

Andy said he found that the live streaming was a service people who came to see classical music and opera would like to see offered.

"We have been under pressure to screen live relays for the past two or three years.

"We are moving into it slowly. We are hoping the audience will come with us and then we will put more on," he added.

In order to ensure live relays do not reduce the amount of live theatre, Artrix will run them earlier in the week.

They will, in effect, replace one of the usual cinema screenings, so if a film would normally be shown for three nights, it will now be shown for two with the theatre stream taking the last slot.

"We hope to bring theatre-goers to Artrix and then encourage them to come to live theatre here," said Andy.

Andy feels 2013 will also be the year when the specialist music, such as folk, takes off.

Seven years ago, when it opened, Artrix played host to local bands, then regional ones and now it is punching above its weight in terms of the high profile artists it is getting.

He puts that down to the size of the auditorium and the fact it is rated highly among the Birmingham venues.

He said there were not that many good places of around 300 capacity out there - bands often had to choose between big arenas or pubs and clubs with standing audiences, which a lot of artists did not relish. Artrix offers that in between option, along with its high quality acoustics that a lot of bands and artists who play there praise.

Education is also an important part of what Artrix does - as well as Shakespeare in Schools, the venue is also very proud of its outreach programme, which offers creative workshops and much more out in the community.

There is also the link-up with NEW College which was one of the main reasons behind the centre's creation and sees young people given the chance to play in a real theatre with a live audience.

Andy said he wanted 2013 to be a year where pieces were created as well as performed at Artrix.

As well as the main auditorium, the venue also boasts the studio upstairs that is perfect for trying things out.

He added there was a fantastic number of theatre and music groups in Bromsgrove and Worcestershire, providing a great creative infrastructure for new work to be developed.

Andy hopes 2013 will provide plenty of opportunity for Artrix to build on its success, which he puts down to the centre being able to run something for everyone.

"It has always been my view that that is the best way to run an arts centre in a small town," he added.

For more on Artrix, visit www.artrix.co.uk or call 01527 577330.

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