Portsmouth Guildhall have launched the first phase of an ambitious programme of restoration and development, that will allow the venue to continue to thrive for years to come, and remain a proud icon of Portsmouth.
The exciting Renaissance project will cost £15m and will be completed in a series of phases over the next decade.
The initial phase of the project will see the ground floor, Harlequin Room transformed from a tired and under-utilised space, into a 185 seat Guildhall Studio, creating a much needed facility to support emerging talent across the region.
Portsmouth Guildhall’s Chief Executive Officer, Andy Grays said:
“We have huge ambitions for the Guildhall, centred on diversifying our programme, so that there is more for younger people and so we can actively support local artist development. This new facility will also provide us with a crucial new asset to help raise income for the long term development of the venue.”
The introduction of this new space will a create a new facility for Portsmouth Guildhall to continue their commitment to supporting artists and musicians across the region, as well as developing a more diversified offering of arts and music, and creating a small conference and meeting space.
Through this smaller performance space it aims to help support the next generation of local artists by complimenting the city’s other music venues, and bridging the gap between venues that can accommodate 100 or 400 people.
This space will also allow the Guildhall to offer a wider musical programme in a more intimate setting, University of Portsmouth’s Music Director Colin Jagger, the organiser of the Chamber Music Series said:
“This will be a fabulous development. Right now we are making use of a 2,000-seat hall, and out concerts never get an audience of 2,000 people. At the moment we put performers on stage and build up around them to make it more intimate, so it doesn’t feel so massive
“But to have a purpose-built venue like this would be fantastic, and it will be an ideal space for these types of music that don’t command the larger audiences as we don’t really have anywhere else in the city that caters for it at the moment”
The exciting first phase of the Renaissance Project will cost £130,000 to complete, and construction is set to begin in summer 2018. £30,000 has already been secured through the Guildhall’s own income generation, but the venue is seeking support from external bodies, corporate partners, and the public to make this phase happen.
The Portsmouth Guildhall is an iconic part of Portsmouth, built in 1890, and almost completely destroyed during the Blitz in 1941, the venue has hosted some of the worlds greatest performers, including: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zeppelin, as well as celebrating home-grown, local talent.
Since its post-war reopening in 1959, the Guildhall has seen little investment, making this project extremely exciting, and an incredible chance to transform a building, helping it live up to its full potential, allowing it to continue to be an accessible, community space in the heart of the city.
If you would like to find out more about the Portsmouth Guildhall, or would like to donate to the project, you can visit their website, and you can also follow them on Facebook @PortsmouthGuildhall, Twitter @PortsmouthGhall, and Instagram @PortsmouthGuildhall.
The Guildhall Renaissance project will:
- Create a purpose built Welcome Centre, improving accessibility, which is welcoming to all
- Provide a quality customer experience underpinned by excellence – new seating, more leg room, air conditioning, and renovated toilet and bar facilities.
- Create a stimulating cultural and social hub as a Studio space that allows Guildhall to develop its art and classical music offer, Learning & Participation Programme, and support emerging talent.
- Restore and renovate the tired interior of the building which is largely untouched since it was re-opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1959.
- Create exciting new exhibition spaces that bring the heritage story of the Guildhall to life.
- Create a dynamic social space with a new retail and catering offer.
- Improve backstage facilities so the Guildhall remains an attractive venue to promoters and artists.
- Secure the future sustainability of the Guildhall by allowing it to maximise use of space and income generation.