Construction of the Jasmin Vardimon Creative Laboratory in Javelin Way has begun and is due to take a year. Ramsgate builders WW Martin have been selected to carry out the work on the county council-owned site, which will eventually include 29 light industrial units.
The creative company has been based in Kent since 2012 and has developed a reputation for training world-class dancers. It now needs to expand into somewhere large enough for a permanent home for its touring company, as well as rehearsal space and classrooms. More than 300 sessions involving 1,700 people were offered between 2019 and 2020, before the impact of Covid-19.
In normal times, the company has links with more than 60 schools, colleges and community groups across Kent, for workshops and performances.
The development has received £3.069 million in capital investment from Arts Council England, as well as £750,000 from Ashford Borough Council through its business rates retention pilot scheme and £578,724 secured by the county council through the South East Local Enterprise Partnership “getting building” fund.
The light industrial units on the site will bring in income and offer much-needed support for small and medium-sized businesses hit by the pandemic.
Until its new home is ready next year, the company will continue to operate from the Designer Outlet in Ashford and a unit on the Carlton Road business park, where it builds stage sets.
The county council’s cabinet member for community and regulatory services Mike Hill welcomed the news, saying: “The council has been a long-time supporter of the Jasmin Vardimon Company, whose work is recognised nationally and internationally. Jasmin and her company have played a vital role in raising the county’s creative and cultural profile.”
Executive director for Jasmin Vardimon, Ian Ross, said: “We are delighted with this news and it is testament to the continued support for the arts and culture in Ashford and Kent. Our new home will provide not only a high-quality creative base for our own work, but also enable us to expand our connection with the local community and support emerging talent.”