Goodness Gracious Me star Sanjeev Bhaskar has launched a major fundraising initiative to help enable the relocation of the legendary South London arts centre, Ovalhouse, to a brand new theatre in Brixton.
Carrying a hod of bricks, the Ovalhouse alumini stood outside the venue’s current Kennington home to support the Ovalhouse Buy A Brick Campaign and called on supporters of the move to get involved by sponsoring a brick.
Money raised from the scheme will to help fund the construction of a new modern building for artists, young people and the community in the heart of Brixton.
The initiative comes after Lambeth Council granted planning permission for the project as part of a major regeneration scheme. The Arts Council of England’s has given an initial grant of £130,600 as the first stage of an overall £3 million large capital grant, and former 007, Pierce Brosnan is supporting the fundraising drive.
Bhaskar’s experience at Ovalhouse was life changing. His show, The Secret Asians, with composer Nitin Sawhney, was discovered by the BBC in 1995 and evolved into the seminal radio and TV comedy series, Goodness Gracious Me.
He said: “Ovalhouse holds a special place in my heart. It is a hotbed of creativity and opportunity, which is vital to both its local community and the wider cultural environment of the city.
WI was enormously privileged to have worked there when I did and that experience changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined.
“I know I am not alone in that and the move to Brixton will ensure that Ovalhouse will continue to provide opportunities and be a place such of vibrancy and excitement way into the future. Let’s make it happen. BUY A BRICK!!!”
Building work for the new home, which is part of a new development on Somerleyton Road and Coldharbour Lane in Brixton, will begin later this year with completion in the Spring of 2018.
The new venue will offer two theatre spaces plus seven multi-use studios for rehearsal, participatory work and community activities, and will bring jobs and opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises plus supporting the already strong cultural sector in Brixton.
With £6.5 million already raised and an Arts Council Award of £3 million, a further £2 million needs to be raised to see the project through to opening. The Buy A Brick Campaign is the first in a series of fundraising inititatives which will take place over the next two years.
Deborah Bestwick, director of Ovalhouse said: “I remember the buzz when Sanjeev and Nitin Sawhney brought The Secret Asians to Ovalhouse – and over the years there have been many more new artists who have launched themselves from our theatre.
“The Buy A Brick campaign will help us support the ‘yet to be discovered ‘ talent – artists, young artists and audiences are the building blocks of the future of a thriving theatre. Everyone who sponsors a brick can be proud to support that future, and we’d love to have your name in our foyer”
Full details of the Buy A Brick Campaign and details of how to become involved can be found at www.ovalhouse.com