Who are we, where did we come from and what do we do?
We are committed to leading the way in the creation, production, presentation and artist/audience development of contemporary circus theatre.
Jacksons Lane is an amazing place!
– Eddie Izzard
The history of Jacksons Lane
Long before it was an arts centre, the building opened in 1905 as the Highgate Wesleyan Methodist Church. Designer W.H. Boney of Highgate created the church in the early Gothic style.
Community-oriented work and programmes have taken place at Jacksons Lane from as far back as 1960. However, by the early 1970s, the church was closed, and remained unoccupied.
Jacksons Lane pulses with community spirit but at the same time opens its doors to the world. An amazing space.
– Phil Jupitus
A group of local residents, parents and campaigners shared a vision for the space as a central hub for the local community, where young people could find a voice, and where creativity could be celebrated.
After several years of campaigning, the group were granted a lease from Haringey Council, alongside a small grant to develop the building.
Jacksons Lane’s re-emergence was a real community effort with many local people coming together to ensure the church could be used by the community. Among them were:
Nicky Gavron (London Assembly Member and previously Deputy Mayor of London), Melian Mansfield, a former chair of The Board and Jan Brooker, who led on the annual Christmas Day charitable effort for an extraordinary 40-year period. Paul Brooker and Jacki Reason also played a major role right from the start.
Jacksons Lane opens
In 1975 Jacksons Lane was reopened to the public and began its life as a social and cultural hub for north London. Five Guys Named Moe and Tara Arts were amongst some of the earliest performers in the venue.
For the first few years, Jacksons Lane was managed and run entirely through a committed team of volunteers determined to create somewhere special for people to enjoy.
Not long after opening, plans were afoot to widen Archway Road. Under these plans, a range of buildings, including Jacksons Lane, would have been knocked down.
Activists linked to Jacksons Lane worked to spare Archway Road from the bulldozer, and ultimately succeeded with thwarting the plan. Jacksons Lane received a Grade II listing and Archway Road was made a preservation area.
A new theatre space
With its physical existence secured, a major fundraising campaign was launched to improve the facilities at Jacksons Lane.
Architects Tim Ronalds oversaw the improvements to the building, which included a fully equipped, raked theatre into what was the church hall and schoolroom.
The new theatre opened in the 1980s, and provided the area with fantastic facilities and more opportunities for artists. The technical areas were made fully accessible, and a programme of technical theatre training for people in wheelchairs was established.
This capital project gave Jacksons Lane six spaces for the creation of work, including its 166 seat auditorium, and won a RIBA Community Enterprise award.
A breeding ground for fast-rising talent.
– Time Out
Jacksons Lane has always been supportive of young and emerging artists and over the years Jacksons Lane has supported hundreds of companies at the start of their careers. Now-established names and companies, such as Complicite, The Mighty Boosh, Out of Joint and Frantic Assembly all developed work at Jacksons Lane.
Eddie Izzard began his comedy career supported by Jacksons Lane, and we were also the site where Matt Lucas and David Walliams first performed together.
Jacksons Lane’s work is felt across all forms: circus was part of the programme right from those earliest days, as well as comedy, drama, music, dance, and Xposure – the UK’s first disability arts festival.
A New Jacksons Lane
Our story is far from over.
Construction work began in November 2020 to address the challenges of working in a building that has now been operating for more than a century and other issues that the building faced, such as accessibility. Work is scheduled to be completed by Summer 2021.
Arts Council England and Haringey Council have provided £2.5 million and £1.25 million respectively for the work.
The project will be overseen by architects Citizens Design Bureau. The London-based agency has a number of cultural designs to their name, including the award-winning Royal Court Theatre project.