CovSoc members were invited to visit an exciting new facility at the Belgrade Theatre on Monday 20th January 2022.
We were fortunate to meet the new Artistic Director of the Theatre, Corey Campbell, an inspirational character who told us about his vision for the future of the theatre, reaching out to all people in the city, including those who would not normally be interested in traditional theatre.
Vera Ding, the General Manager of the Theatre gave us a presentation about the new facility and took us on a tour of the building which is just down Corporation Street from the theatre.
The former Jaguar pub has a lot of history and meaning for many Coventry residents and workers. It was originally a place where Coventry based employees of Jaguar would meet to have a post work drink. It later became a venue with a more salacious notoriety (a stripper pole was found in the basement during the refurbishment!). Many of the tradespeople working on the project remembered visiting the pub during a misspent youth.
The project designers decided not to turn their backs on the building’s history and name and instead embrace them. Hence the name “Jag 2.0.” The “2.0” is a reference to the space being re-booted as a home for digital projects. The project also continues the proud tradition of Coventry’s history of industry and invention into the digital age.
The premises comprise a basement space and ground floor space with two flats above. The project is to be operated as a social enterprise, supported by the income earned from the renting out the two apartments above the units.
Design Students from Coventry University helped design the facility as part of their degree programme. The focus was on creating a flexible space that is future proofed to meet rapidly emerging technology.
The idea was to create a safe space for at-risk young people to benefit from emerging technologies and a Hub to form a pipeline into employment opportunities. It will integrate digital and physical interaction, providing young people with opportunities to meet, learn and experiment with technology.
A Belgrade-led consortium will deliver activities, supporting young people to develop their own creative projects while gaining the skills they need navigate the digital landscape.
Programmes will offer opportunities for young people to engage in small screen creation; gaming; VR; music; and social platforms. The programmes will incorporate a focus on enterprise and innovation and take advantage of the unique nature of 5G ensuring that our city, as one of the first to be 5G ready, equips young people to be at the forefront of emerging technologies and provide a valuable resource for businesses operating in the digital space.
The downstairs basement will primarily operate as a flexible space that can stage small performances, music or comedy or short film events and rehearsals. It will also cable in the highest speed internet possible, to support the fastest uploading and downloading of digital content. This will in turn, lend the space to other digitally immersive experiences, and experimentation.
The Ground Floor will also be flexible in its configuration to meet multiple uses including:
- Operate as a shared working space, with ability for users to plug in their computers to electricity sources and to access wi-fi (incorporating benches and seating to work at)
- Ability to utilise fit out for shared working space and configure fixtures to function as a large meeting space/presentation space
- Ability to store fixtures so that they fold away or hang on the wall etc, so that the space can be used for workshops.
- The kitchen area can become a small commercial operation within food preparation guidelines.
- The area from the front door to the shared working space to be developed with consideration for a : pop up box office; secure storage spaces for regular users; additional tables and chairs for visitors to use and smaller meetings to take place with the feel of a coffee shop
The look and feel of the whole space is functional and industrial with some smaller touches to make it a welcoming space.