Colston Hall in Bristol would close for 18 months with £44m overhaul
BRISTOL’S Colston Hall would have to close down for 18 months if the funding can be won for a complete £44 million overhaul, The Post has learned.
The much-loved building would have to be covered in scaffolding while the work was undertaken, probably starting in 2015 at the earliest.
But cabinet councillor Simon Cook, the city’s arts and culture champion, said they would continue to hold gigs and shows at other venues in the city as a temporary measure.
He said: “We are currently working on a theoretical programme of events while the refurbishment was carried out but that of course depends on whether we get the funding.”
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He said other venues which they were considering during the hall’s closure included the Passenger Shed at Temple Meads, open air concerts at the Lloyds amphitheatre on the dockside and smaller events in the hall’s new foyer.
Mr Cook said: “We would not stop working – we would keep going while the hall was closed and we are currently exploring the possibilities.”
A complete overhaul would probably generate at least 200 construction jobs during the programme of work.
Mr Cook said: “Once you start touching a building like this which has been neglected for so many years, you start finding all sorts of things which need doing.
“It’s a big, big job but something that desperately needs doing.”
Three years ago, the concert hall’s new £20 million foyer was opened to create a dramatic new entrance to the building.
But the phased work on the 2,000-seat auditorium was halted because of public spending cuts.
The auditorium needs £10 million worth of repairs just to keep it open as it is.
But Mr Cook is fighting for a complete overhaul as long-term investment for the city.
He believes that if the hall was brought up to modern-day standards, it would help to put Bristol on the international stage and encourage new investment in the city.
The £10 million spend would cover structural work such as roof repairs, new boilers and heating system, re-wiring, re-decorating and creating more balconies to help improve the auditorium’s acoustics.
A complete overhaul would include collapsible seats near the front of the stage to create standing room only for rock gigs. The seats would electronically retract into one of two basements below the auditorium.
The stage and backstage areas would also be completely remodelled and the lower basement would be turned into a venue for jazz gigs as well as studios for workshops.
The former entrance area and the smaller hall would also be re-worked.
Council officers are currently putting together a bid to the Government’s Regional Growth Fund for regeneration projects.
It would be a joint bid for £50-£100 million for both the revamp of the Colston Hall as well as a new arena for the city.
The mayor George Ferguson believes both projects are complementary to each other and desperately needed for the city’s future prosperity.
If the bid was successful, then the council could approach the Arts Council and Heritage Lottery Fund for money to help pay for the revamp.