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What Is Artsdepot?

Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins

Artsdepot is a performing, cultural and visual arts center in the North London borough of Barnet. Planning for the center began in 1996, after a study by borough leaders determined the area was lacking a viable arts center. It was not until 2004, however, that the institution opened its doors to the public as a multifaceted arts incubator.

Located at 5 Nether Street in London's North Finchley area, which is known as Barnet, artsdepot in 2011 offers a little something for artists and patrons of diverse interests. Its two theaters, the Pentland and the Studio, are small-capacity venues, with the larger — the Pentland, seating just 395. Nevertheless, a steady stream of music, theater and dance performances, from local or traveling artists, keeps area residents fed with artistic possibilities. Some annual gatherings are free like the open arts day called Play! The Big Draw or the London Jazz Festival shows, while other special events are typically admission only.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A major component of the artsdepot mission appears to be education. A slew of classes for children, from toddlers to teens, as well as adults, provide opportunities to take to the stage or studio and gain performance or visual arts mastery. In 2011 several dance groups held regular classes, from the advanced FAME Academy of Performing Arts and Diddi Dance clubs to more beginner-level learning like the toddler-centric Theatrebugs and the Debutots story and music workshops. According to the center, classes are regularly offered in multiple genres to children of all ages above 10 months.

Adults also benefit from this educational mission, though most of the classes are not free. Grownups can train with the Kinisi Dance Company, or they can join an actors' studio or company. The popular Latin zumba style of fitness dancing is available in a few ways in 2011 — in classes called Zumba with Billie and Claire, or Zumba Fitness with Roulla. The center also has a Bollywood Grooves dancing class to incorporate yet another culture into the educational offerings.

The artsdepot complex regularly provides space for a handful of gallery events at any given time. Sometimes, the work is from the center's artists' studio classes, for amateurs and masters alike. These shows run concurrently with more professional gallery events, featuring themed acquisitions bringing together notable local artists to other shows focusing on a particular professional artist.

Many of the gallery visitors are attending the steady stream of shows being hosted at artsdepot. The two theaters do not just set aside time for education-related performances though. They also part the curtains for a range of area theater groups, who rent performance space from the center to show off in front of a proper audience.

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