A new social enterprise aiming to inspire and celebrate black achievement has opened its doors in Newtown, at the home of the former Drum arts centre in Birmingham.

The Legacy Centre of Excellence centre opened its doors this week with plans to host several events, co-working spaces, courses and creative ventures for the benefit of the local community.

Dismayed when The Drum was forced to close its doors in June 2016, overjoyed neighbourhood and city residents returned to the building to celebrate the site of a legacy for the local community.

Legacy Centre of ExcellenceDenise Maxwell / Lensi Photography
Crowds at the opening of the Legacy Centre of Excellence

The opening of the brand new Legacy Centre saw over 2,000 people come through the doors to listen to talks, find out more information about the centre, and enjoys entertainment that was put on for its launch day.

I Am Birmingham spoke to Selina Brown, one of the driving forces behind the centre:

“It is the biggest black arts and business centre in Europe, today we are making history. It is going to be a hub for everything of excellence, we with be holding South Birmingham College here, a STEM, courses and training, a business hub, offices to let, co working space, a big arts programme and a young people  people.

“It is an independent business that will be sustainable via the community. We are for the people, by the people”

Legacy Centre of Excellence by Lensi Photography, event photographyDenise Maxwell / Lensi Photography
Crowds at the opening of The Legacy Centre for Excellence in Aston

Alongside Selina Brown, driving forces behind the centre include community advocates Keith Smith, Paul Knight, Augusta Ukandu and Kristina Hall.

Events are already planned for September and October, with a project dedicated to celebrating and inspiring members of the black community, with a strong focus on young people and the under-represented.

Speaker Leo X told attendees at the venue’s inaugural celebration that even though Birmingham is known as the ‘second city’, the city now had a building and initiative that didn’t even exist in London.

Denise Maxwell / Lensi Photography
Leo X Speaking at the new Legacy Centre for Excellence

Formerly The Drum

Originally established as the UK’s national centre for Black British and British Asian arts, The centre showcased music, drama, spoken word, exhibitions, visual arts, comedy and dance.

In March 2016, however, the decision was taken liquidate, amid financial troubles. The announcement to close was caused outrage among community representatives and residents. At the time, Birmingham musician Laura Mvula described the news as “terrible” and an online community petition to save the venue from closure was signed by 3,294 people but was unsuccessful in its campaign; despite recent fundraising by poet Benjamin Zephaniah and musician Courtney Pine.

Keith Smith – also popularly recognised as music producer, author and entrepreneur Cipher – felt the impact of this, and as someone who had always been concerned and involved with community projects he felt could not let this happen and set about nearly two years of work in setting up the Legacy Centre.

The venue will seek to re-establish itself under the new brand and management, introduce new developments such as rented offices, and also continue with tried and tested popular services including live music performances in the newly refurbished live music arena. Reggae icon Johnny Osbourne will be one of the first performers, singing live in concert on 6th October.


Here’s 10 glorious photos from the grand opening:


 #1  Selina Brown, Keith Smith, Paul Knight, Augusta Ukandu and Kristina Hall

Driving forces behind the centre: Selina Brown, Keith Smith, Paul Knight, Augusta Ukandu and Kristina HallDenise Maxwell / Lensi Photography

 #2  Urban Waffles Food stall at the launch

Urban Waffles Food stall at the launch of Legacy Centre for ExcellenceDenise Maxwell / Lensi Photography

 #3  Young drummers entertain the crowd

Drumming Entertainment Young Drummers at the Legacy Centre for ExcellenceDenise Maxwell / Lensi Photography

 #4  The new Legacy Centre for Excellence

The new Legacy Centre for Excellence Denise Maxwell / Lensi Photography

 #5  Reverend Eve Pitts of Holy Trinity Church speaking

Reverend Eve Pitts of Holy Trinity Church speaking at the Legacy Centre for Excellence in BirminghamDenise Maxwell / Lensi Photography

 #6  The new Legacy Centre replaces The Drum

The new Legacy Centre for Excellence replaces The Drum Arts CentreDenise Maxwell / Lensi Photography

#7  Host Rebecca Hemmings

Host Rebecca Hemmings at the Legacy centre of ExcellenceDenise Maxwell / Lensi Photography

 #8  Live music at the grand opening

Live Performance at the opening of the Legacy Centre for Excvellence Denise Maxwell / Lensi Photography

 #9  CEO Keith Smith – aka Cipher – cuts the ribbon

The Legacy Centre for Excellence ribbon about to be cut by CEO Keith Smith, also known as Cypher Jesse Gerald

 #10  Over 2,000 people attended the venue launch

legacy centre of excellence, lensi photography, event photographyDenise Maxwell / Lensi Photography
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https://www.iambirmingham.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/70537689_10218483693539789_2535006611403964416_n-800x600.jpghttps://www.iambirmingham.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/70537689_10218483693539789_2535006611403964416_n-300x225.jpgDenise JamesArtsBLMBrumFeedBusinessCharityCommunityEducationEntertainmentGalleryHistory & HeritageNewsYoung peopleAchievement,Arts,Asian,Aston,Augusta Ukandu,Birmingham,Black,Black community,Centre,Cipher,Cypher,Denise Maxwell,Drum Arts Centre,Jesse Gerlad,Keith Smith,Kristina Hall,Launch,Legacy Centre for Excellence,music,opening,Paul Knight,Selina Brown,September 2019,south Asian,The Drum,The Drum Arts Centre,venueA new social enterprise aiming to inspire and celebrate black achievement has opened its doors in Newtown, at the home of the former Drum arts centre in Birmingham. The Legacy Centre of Excellence centre opened its doors this week with plans to host several events, co-working spaces, courses and creative ventures for the benefit of the...The latest news, updates and events in Birmingham