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Milton Keynes Arts Centre at 50 Years: 1974–2024

Milton Keynes Arts Centre at 50 Years: 1974–2024
Celebrating 50 Years of Artistic Excellence and Community Impact

Milton Keynes Arts Centre proudly marks its 50th anniversary, celebrating half a century of inspiring creativity and making a lasting impact on the local community. As we reflect on our achievements, we invite you to join us in ensuring the continuation of our vital work for the next 50 years.

Our beginnings
In 1971 the Manor freehold, which included the Manor house, Schoolhouse, Almshouses, Stables and Thatched Barn were bought by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation to become a ‘unique amenity accessible to the city’s residents’. Initially located in the Manor house, the Arts Centre expanded into the other historic buildings on the manor grounds to create studios, workshops, a performance space and a gallery. Between 1979-81, the Radcliffe Building was then constructed to house specialist making facilities. Within its gardens sculptures by renowned artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore were displayed and its studios have been home to artists such as Boyd & Evans and Heather and Ivan Morison, contributing to the vibrant artistic heritage of MK.  

Who we are today
Today we run regular creative programmes allowing young children to explore their creativity through sensory activities and play. Our wellbeing courses, aimed at young people and adults, provide an outlet for people who may be experiencing mild-moderate mental health challenges, to take a break from everyday pressures by participating in hands-on making, focusing attention on creative expression and learning a new skill. We remain committed to advancing education through the development of unique school art resources, inviting artists who reflect the communities we work with to engage with MK communities, to increase understanding and awareness of the city’s diverse cultures through contemporary art; as well as to encourage environmental awareness and to promote reuse, repurposing and regeneration in art’s making.

Our socially engaged ethos means our work is increasingly focused on supporting social cohesion, wellbeing, and skills development, collaborating with artists and cross-sector organisations to address local and global issues through creativity. Dedicated to inclusivity, the Arts Centre has provided multiple entry points for diverse communities to engage with the arts, offering life-enhancing skills through collaboration with professional artists; as a result, we have become one of the largest employers of artists in Milton Keynes.

“Roo always comes out of session happy, enjoying the activity she has done and has felt like she has been listened to, and been seen, which has improved her self-confidence.”

Parent/ Guardian – Feedback to Art, Nature and Wellbeing

“Thank you so much for holding these, they were all so fun and helped me get out more and enjoy life”

Participant – Feedback to Art, Nature and Wellbeing  

“On behalf of African Diaspora Foundation, I can truly say that we are happy to introduce African culture and heritage to the mainstream…I hope the young people that were introduced to African culture and heritage have triggered their interest about the rich history and culture of our continent.

Rooda Abdillahi, Chair, African Diaspora Foundation – Feedback to African Schools Resource Project, developed with young curators from Brooklands Farm School, Oct 2021 – March 2022 

“Tonight was a great turnout; I stayed and made a house too and felt completely empowered! I hadn’t used a sewing machine since 1971 and desperately want to learn. All in attendance were so appreciative for the opportunity to be involved in the beautiful project so thank you for helping to make this happen at Moorlands.”

Debbie Murray, Family Centre Head, Moorlands Family Centre, Netherfield – Feedbackto Maddi Nicholson: Home project 

The year ahead
In celebration of this significant milestone, we have planned a series of events and activities throughout the year including exhibitions, workshops and performances developed by local communities through working with visiting and MK-based artists. These festivities not only honour our past achievements but also look towards the future, envisioning the next 50 years of creativity, community, and cultural enrichment.

However, we recognise that our work is only possible with the continued support of our community and friends. To ensure Milton Keynes Arts Centre legacy thrives for another half-century, we are launching a fundraising campaign, asking for your generous donations. Your contribution will directly support our mission of nurturing creativity, providing opportunities for emerging artists, and fostering inclusivity within our community.

How You Can Contribute:

Online Donations: Visit our website to make a secure online donation. Every contribution, no matter the size, makes a significant impact. Donte today.

Become a Patron: Consider becoming a patron, providing ongoing support for our programmes and initiatives. Contact us at or 01908 608108 for more information on becoming a patron.

Spread the Word: Share our 50th-anniversary celebrations and donation campaign on social media using the hashtag #MKAC50. Your voice helps amplify our message and reach a broader audience.

As we look back on the last 50 years, we are filled with gratitude for the community that has supported us. Your continued generosity will ensure that Milton Keynes Arts Centre remains a vibrant hub of creativity, community engagement, and cultural enrichment for generations to come.

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