The first steps have been taken in the planning process for Aberdeen Performing Art’s (APA) ambitious plans to revitalise the city’s historic Music Hall.
And it marks the start of a journey to position Aberdeen’s much-loved Music Hall at the musical heart of city centre regeneration, delighting audiences in Aberdeen and the North-east for generations to come.
Two applications – one for listed building consent and the other for a new access ramp at the front of the building – have been submitted to Aberdeen City for consideration by their planning committee.
APA chief executive Jane Spiers says: “The planning process takes us a step nearer our goal to breathe new life into the Music Hall ensuring its place at the heart of civic and cultural life in the city.
“This is not just a building project, the regeneration will help us to reveal and share the Music Hall's rich history down the ages and create an inspirational space for artists and audiences in a place which has delighted, educated and entertained audiences for decades.
“At APA we are passionately committed to making this city treasure sparkle once again while inspiring and involving people of all ages and securing its rightful place at the heart of the social and cultural life of our city.”
APA – the company which operates the iconic venue alongside His Majesty’s Theatre and The Lemon Tree – now has pledges in place totalling £4.9m for the £7m project.
This includes £1.5m funding from Creative Scotland, £1m from Aberdeen City Council; £700,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund; £220,000 from Historic Scotland; £240,00 from the Robertson Trust and £1.25m from APA’s own restoration fund – money raised by the general public through ticket sales.
And Aberdeen City Council has agreed to act as guarantor for the final £2m needed to allow the project to get underway on site at the end of March next year.
“We still have a way to go to raise the final £2m but we hope the public will get behind us as we continue to work hard to reach our target,” adds Jane.
“The Music Hall is for everyone – from the children who enjoy the singalongs and puppet shows, to the classical music aficionados, heavy metal fans and the laughter lovers - and we hope they will help us secure this wonderful building for the future.”
The funding will be used to upgrade, restore and conserve the Music Hall and a key aim is to improve access and freedom of movement around the building for all users.
The plans also include creating a new studio space and new creative learning space; restoring and renovating the auditorium; improving artists’ accommodation; creating a new box office and making the 155-year-old building more environmentally friendly.
Since the early 80s and in the last 30 years, over four million visitors and more than 5000 staged events and concerts have taken their toll on the iconic Union Street building.
The redevelopment project is designed not only to restore, conserve and protect the Music Hall but to safeguard its rich history of people, communities, experiences and cultural activity over two centuries and ensure its survival for the next two centuries.
APA has appointed award-winning architects Building Design Partnership (BDP) to draw up plans to transform, what they describe as a ‘sleeping beauty’ of a building, into a truly great and popular cultural, civic and community asset.