“Graham from ART has lots of faith in us. He and the team really have a desire to see us succeed and have been there to help us all the way through. That is the massive difference between ART and the high street bank.”
Martin and Carol Cutler danced together on the amateur and professional ballroom dance circuit throughout the 1970s and 1980s, becoming Ballroom, Latin American and Ten Dance Champions in the mid to late ‘80s. They have taught professionally since 1982 and have run their own dance studios in several locations around Solihull, moving to the current site in Olton in 2014.
“When we found the site, it comprised two houses and three warehouse units,” says Martin. “We knocked down the warehouse units and replaced them with a large ballroom that is able to host competitions and joined the two houses together to form two further smaller ballrooms. Part way through the refurbishment of the houses and creation of the ballroom extension, the construction company we were using went bankrupt. We had paid them up front, but they owed HMRC more than they owed us so we got nothing back. Manipulating the letter of the law they have been able to recommence trading. That is legal apparently, but left us with an enormous problem.”
ART Business Loans (ART) was already known to Martin and Carol, through their financial advisor, because ART had been going to help them purchase premises elsewhere a few years earlier. “The loan was lined up, but the purchase fell through at the last minute,” says Martin. “We carried on looking and have found our ideal location where we are now. We are easy to get to for social dancers from across Solihull and East Birmingham as well for competitive dancers who come to us from all over the world.”
The couple did get a bank loan to help complete the refurbishment, but it was not for the full sum they needed, so they approached ART, which was happy to make up the difference. “Graham has lots of faith in us,” explains Martin. “He can see how knowledgeable and enthusiastic we are about dance and the whole family is involved. My son Jamie and daughter Charlotte both teach and Jamie still dances competitively all over the world, with his Danish partner. My wife Carol also makes dresses for the competitive dancers. There are only a few studios in the country now that offer both social and competitive tuition – and none as big as this one. Graham has been great. He and the ART team really have a desire to see us succeed and have been there to help us all the way through. That is the massive difference between ART and the high street bank.”
The loan was supported by The Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme.
The Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme is managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
Having been closed for almost a year, due to the problems with the refurbishment, Aura had to start almost from scratch to build its clientele. However, with its range of social classes, social and competitive private tuition, exercise classes based on dance, competitions and special events, it is continuing to grow and flourish. Demand for children’s classes is increasing and a further extension to the premises is currently underway.