The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has committed £256,000 towards the redevelopment of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.
Working with arts charity Town Hall Symphony Hall, the investment will help fund the refurbishment of the foyer and the construction of a new entrance way.
The construction project extends and remodels Symphony Hall’s public spaces to create a building that is economically sustainable, vibrant and connected to Centenary Square and surrounding areas. The unveiling of the new foyer was marked by a Covid-safe performance by a group of top musicians.
Musicians practicing in the new Symphony Hall foyer. Photo courtesy Eugene Hilton
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands and former vice-chair of Performances Birmingham, which runs both Symphony Hall and the Town Hall, said: “Symphony Hall is one of the West Midlands’ best landmarks and a real jewel in Birmingham’s crown, and so it is brilliant to see the venue swing open its doors to musicians again after undergoing a stunning transformation.
“As a born-and-bred Brummie and former vice-chair of Performances Birmingham, I know first-hand just how truly special Symphony Hall is. I am therefore delighted that the WMCA could play its part in helping the transformation happen, and I cannot wait until the public can start taking their seats again.”
Home of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Hall is one of the world’s most outstanding concert halls and is renowned for its acoustic excellence and diverse programming, attracting renowned artists, musicians, and performers both locally and internationally.
It also fosters creativity through both music and education and with this new design will welcome a diverse audience to celebrate and participate in the arts.
The project will create more than 528 jobs, 21 of which are due to the WMCA funding. Additionally, the project will deliver a further nine apprenticeships.
Originally designed by the Percy Thomas Partnership and Renton Howard Wood Levin in the late 1980s, the 3,000 capacity Birmingham Symphony Hall opened in 1991. Following a competition, architects Page\Park, a practice known for its work with cultural organisations, were appointed to deliver the new entrance and foyer.
Performances Birmingham Limited, the charitable trust which manages Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall presents more than 600 events a year. It is registered with the Charity Commission to educate the public by encouraging appreciation of the arts, especially music, and to educate young people in performing and composing music.
Nick Reed, chief executive of Performances Birmingham Limited, said: “I am thrilled we can share the first glimpses of the new Symphony Hall following the completion of the Making an Entrance project. The redevelopment of Birmingham’s world-renowned concert hall would not have been possible without the generous funding provided by the WMCA. We thank the combined authority for its financial contribution and its continued support of the arts and culture throughout the city.
“Over the past 18 months we have worked with various teams to transform the public spaces of our iconic concert hall to create new spaces for performance and learning, giving new opportunities for local musicians, and supporting our local community in musical discoveries.”
The funding announcement from the WMCA is the latest signal to the market that the region is continuing to use its brownfield site investment to support economic and cultural recovery following the pandemic.
Cllr Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio holder for housing and land and leader of Walsall Council, said: “Symphony Hall is an outstanding cultural landmark that has long been a defining part of the heritage and culture not just for Birmingham but all the people of the West Midlands. The refurbishment works and public realm improvements mark a new era for the hall.
“This has been a challenging time for the live music sector and the arts more widely but Symphony Hall will open safely once again, welcoming people from near and far back into this exciting new space.”