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Portsmouth Guildhall launches first phase of Renaissance Development

The ambitious programme of restoration and development aims to allow the Guildhall to thrive for the next 130 years and be a venue of which the city can be proud.

The exciting Renaissance project will cost £15million and be completed in several phases over the next 10 years, allowing the Guildhall to raise the funds needed and complete the programme without having to close the venue for long periods.

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 the
  • Guildhall to develop its arts 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

The initial phase of the project will see The Harlequin Room transformed from a tired and under-utilised space on the Ground Floor of the Guildhall, into a 185 seat/250 standing capacity Guildhall Studio which will create a much needed facility to support emerging talent across the region, develop a diversified arts and classical music offer, create a small conference and meeting space and provide an accessible hub that community groups can utilise.

As a Concert Hall that has seen some of the world’s finest artists perform including TheBeatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Status Quo and Elton John, and which celebrates home-grown talent through its Portsmouth Music Experience Exhibition and Wall of Fame, the Guildhall aims to support the next generation of local artists. Complementing the other excellent music venues in the city, the development of a secondary performance space at the Guildhall will fill the gap between suitable venues that can accommodate 100 or 400 people, creating a clear path of progression for emerging artists trying to grow their audiences.

The Guildhall Studio will also be used to programme a more diverse offer including folk, blues, jazz and world music, classical soloists and ensembles and the Portsmouth Chamber Music Series in an intimate setting more befitting to these performances. Both current audiences to the Guildhall and non-attenders have expressed demand for such an offer, currently not available in the city. As an accessible, community space in the heart of the city, the Guildhall Studio will also play an important role in the Guildhall’s Participate programme, a series of activities and workshops to transform lives by inspiring, exciting and educating people through music, art and culture, providing a hub that can be used by all. Patron of Portsmouth Guildhall and Lead Singer and Bassist of Level 42, Mark King, offered his support for the development saying, “Well done to Portsmouth Guildhall with this excellent initiative to restore a real gem. The Guildhall continues to be the focal point for the arts in Portsmouth and we need these spaces now more than ever.”

This exciting first phase of the Renaissance Project will cost £130,000 to complete, with works set to take place 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.

Having seen relatively little investment in the building since it’s reopening by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1959, the development of the Guildhall Studio is a vital step to securing the long term financial sustainability of the venue, to continue to attract top acts, maximise income generation opportunities and to achieve its goal of being the leading Concert and Conference venue in the South.

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”.

If you would like to support the development and sustainability of the Guildhall, emerging local talent and the community please donate online at www.portsmouthguildhall.org.uk or contact us on 023 9387 0203 to discuss becoming a partner.


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