The Arts Council has agreed to pay £5.8 million towards the cost of a makeover for the Corn Exchange in Brighton.
The grant – announced today (Tuesday 21 October) – will also help pay for a café and bar in the Studio Theatre – better known as the Pavilion Theatre – in New Road, Brighton.
The Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival, which runs the grade I listed building, said that the makeover would be the first phase in vision to revitalise Royal Pavilion Estate.
It said: “We are delighted to announce that Arts Council England has pledged £5.8 million towards a major revitalisation of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival’s heritage venues following a successful bid by the joint custodians of the Royal Pavilion Estate – Brighton and Hove City Council and Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival.
“The development plans form the first phase of a larger and longer-term ambition to reconnect the historic buildings and landscape of the Royal Pavilion Estate to create a world class destination for heritage, culture and the performing arts influenced by the unique spirit of Brighton.
“This first phase of the project specifically comprises a refurbishment of the Grade I Brighton Dome Corn Exchange, a major renovation of the Grade II Studio Theatre and complements previous major works completed in 2002.
“It will enable Brighton Dome’s three venues – the Concert Hall, the Corn Exchange and the Studio Theatre – to improve their sustainability, working conditions and facilities, while also encouraging new audiences, supporting artist development and enabling the organisation to realise its vision to be one of Europe’s leading arts festivals and a year-round destination for artists and audiences.
“Improvements will be explored in terms of audience experience, accessibility and orientation, facilities, improved infrastructure and better visibility for the venue in the city’s Cultural Quarter.
“The plans will benefit audiences, residents, community groups, schools, resident and visiting artists, tourists, conference delegates, the regional digital community and local businesses among others.
“The main construction proposals include
- Major improvements to the Studio Theatre including a ground floor bar/café opening on to New Road
- Creation of a magnificent new Corn Exchange viewing gallery and audience circulation space
- Transformation of the Corn Exchange with new seating and more efficient infrastructure
- A dedicated creation space
- Provision for additional offices, back-of-house accommodation, storage, WCs, catering
- A service tunnel linking all parts of the complex (between the venues)
“Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival received a development grant (of £199,000) from Arts Council England (ACE) in January 2013 which allowed the exploration of concepts and plans for capital development to secure long-term sustainability.
“The overall fundraising strategy for the project seeks to secure funding not only from Arts Council England but also a phased application process to the Heritage Lottery Fund and a wide range of trusts and foundations and individual donations.”
Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival chief executive Andrew Comben said: “We are delighted and proud to be awarded this funding from Arts Council England.
“As the first phase of the broader vision for the Royal Pavilion Estate, the development plans for Brighton Dome Corn Exchange and the Studio Theatre form a major part of our goal to be one of Europe’s leading arts festivals and a year-round international destination for artists and audiences.
“The improvements to our venue – which will include the provision of a dedicated creation space – will not only enable us to build on our work with artists through our resident, associate and visiting companies by bringing their ideas, their creative drive and their insight to our audiences, but also ensure we are able to continue to provide an innovative and sustainable programme of events for all.
“But, this is just the start. The development plans still rely on an overall fundraising strategy that includes a wide range of trusts and foundations, individual donations and phased Heritage Lottery funding applications.
“We will continue to work with all our partners and key stakeholders as we jointly progress our ambition to realise the Royal Pavilion Estate as a world-class heritage site.”
Council chief executive Penny Thompson said: “Brighton Dome is a key part of Brighton’s Cultural Quarter and the city’s rich heritage.
“We want to ensure that it is preserved while it also continues to flourish as a vibrant cultural destination for residents, audiences, artists and visitors.
“As the first phase of the larger and longer-term ambition to connect, preserve and celebrate the Royal Pavilion Estate, this project is in a unique position.”
She said that it would bring the arts and heritage sectors together to ensure they were sustainable, resilient and innovative while benefiting audiences, residents, community groups, schools, resident and visiting artists, tourists, conference delegates, the regional digital community and local businesses among others.
Hedley Swain, the area director for the south east at Arts Council England, said: “Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival make an important contribution to the artistic and cultural fabric of Brighton and we are pleased to be able to support its continued development through this capital investment.
“This project will enhance the experience that it is able to offer to audiences while also supporting the organisation’s long-term resilience – both of which are key to its continued success.”