Revamped Symphony Hall designs revealed New entrance to open up world-famous music venue
THE plans for a £12 million revamp of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall have finally been revealed.
It is hoped the ‘modest’ extension will generate more income as the council slashes grants to the arts sector by £1 million a year.
The wall facing Centenary Square will be removed to make way for a new glass facade with a dedicated entrance to Symphony Hall as opposed to the one inside The International Convention Centre (ICC).
The extra space will accommodate new bars, corporate hospitality suites, learning and education spaces with the box office to be relocated.
Performances Birmingham Ltd, which runs the concert venue, submitted designs for the facelift to Birmingham City Council last week.
It is hoped the project can be completed in time to host the Conservative Party Conference in 2020, although the venue will remain open during construction.
Symphony Hall was officially opened in 1991 by the Queen.
Page\Park Architects, which has designed the scheme, said the venue lacked its own identi- ty “within the monochrome and corporate feeling circulation and public spaces” of the ICC.
It also described the current foyers as ‘tired’ and in need of a ‘refresh’.
The architects said: “Like most cultural organisations Performances Birmingham are seeking ways to increase their financial resilience in the face of reductions in public subsidy – they need to make the building work harder to make more money.
“Currently the foyers of the Symphony Hall only really work in performance mode, leaving a lot of time when the foyers are underused.
“A key objective of the project is to activate the foyers spaces outside performance hours – to bring daytime activity through an enhanced learning and participation programme and an expanded concert and event programme, increase spend on bars and catering, and provide rentable spaces for hospitality and corporate events.”
It added: “With its transparent glazed facade offering views into the foyers full of visible activity – stacked from caf to children’s performance to corporate event – it is intended that the new foyers assist Performance Birmingham Ltd to grow their audience to both increase their financial resilience and reflect the rich diversity of the city.”
Symphony Hall announced the £12 million development titled ‘Making an Entrance’ earlier this year.
While in recent weeks the city council went out to consultation on its plans to make £18 million worth of fresh cuts next year.
One proposal is to reduce arts grants by one third to save £1 million. A host of organisations are set to lose out including Symphony Hall the Town Hall, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Birmingham Repertory Theatre among others.
The council stated: “It will be for the major cultural organisations to manage the implications of a reduced grant. It is likely that audience development and outreach programmes will be reduced, there will be a reduction in artistic development for new productions and a potential increase to ticket prices.”
The council’s savings proposals are yet to be formally approved.
> The new entrance to Symphony Hall which will overlook Centenary Square
> The current Symphony Hall design has been unchanged since 1991