SECRETARY of State for Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, officially opened the new Royal Opera House Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre at High House Production Park in Purfleet.
The purpose built facility has new workrooms where costumes for the Royal Opera House productions will be made and repaired, enabling more of the work to be done in-house. The new facility will also house more than 20,000 costumes from The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet repertory which were previously stored in a warehouse in Aberdare. The special climate controlled conditions will help preserve the costumes, reducing the need for repair. The Historic Collection which includes over 6000 costume items, pieces of furniture and musical instruments dating back to the 18th century, will also be housed in the building bringing together the current and historic costume collections under one roof for the very first time.
The Royal Opera House is also leading on the first employer-led degree in Costume Construction in a unique partnership with South Essex College and University of the Arts London. The first students started in September and are being trained in the high quality costume making skills which are needed in the industry. They will observe the professional Royal Opera House costume makers and learn about conservation skills as well as dyeing, cutting and tailoring techniques amongst others. The training the students receive on this course will equip them with the skills needed not only to work in theatre but also film, TV and fashion.
Speaking about the opening of the new Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre, Royal Opera House Chief Executive Alex Beard said, ‘This is a landmark moment for us as we see our wonderful new building officially opened and fully operational with costumes being made for the Royal Opera House stages, historic costumes and artefacts carefully stored and preserved, and the next generation of costume makers learning their craft alongside professionals. It’s also a brilliant example of how the Royal Opera House plays its part in the wider creative industries and a local community, developing opportunities for skills training and, ultimately, jobs. This new addition to the High House Production Park has only been made possible through the vision of all our partners involved in this project, and the support of our funders.”
Communities Secretary Greg Clark added, commented on opening the Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre “I’m delighted to open the Royal Opera House’s fantastic new costume centre which will put Thurrock firmly on the cultural map of Britain. Backed by multi-million pound Government funding this state-of-the-art production park and surrounding area is fast becoming a key location for growing arts companies, which in turn will lead to thousands of new homes and jobs.”
This is the latest building to join the growing hub of creative industries at High House Production Park including Acme Artists’ Studios and the Backstage Centre run by Creative & Cultural Skills.