Aberdeen Performing Arts ambitious plans to revitalise the citys historic Music Hall have been given initial approval by the Heritage Lottery Fund with the award of a first-round pass for a grant of £700,000.
And its another major vote of confidence in the large-scale redevelopment proposals to keep city centre venue as the musical heart of Aberdeen and the North-east for generations to come.
The Heritage Lottery Fund granted the company a stage 1 pass application with £700,000 earmarked pending a stage 2 application.
APA the company which operates the iconic venue alongside His Majestys Theatre and The Lemon Tree has now secured pledges totalling £4.5m for the £7m project.
This includes £1.5m funding from Creative Scotland, £1m from Aberdeen City Council and £1.25m from APAs own restoration fund money raised by the general public through ticket sales.
APA chief executive Jane Spiers says: We are delighted by this vote of confidence from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It takes us a step nearer our goal to regenerate and breathe new life into the Music Hall ensuring its place at the heart of civic and cultural life for generations to come.
This is not just a building project, Heritage Lottery funding 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.
Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, Colin McLean, comments: Aberdeen Music Hall has delighted, educated and entertained audiences for decades, its fascinating history tightly interwoven with the social history and cultural traditions of Aberdeen.
We are delighted to add our support to a project which will enable this national treasure to sparkle once again while inspiring and involving people of all ages as they explore it fascinating history.
Leader of Aberdeen City Council Jenny Laing says: the Music Hall is a wonderful cultural asset in Aberdeen so I am delighted to hear that its proposed redevelopment is set to receive financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
We aspire to be a place of excellence for culture and the arts and we want people who live in Aberdeen or visit the city to be able to enjoy the iconic Music Hall and all it has to offer for generations to come.
I am sure the patrons of the Music Hall, living in Aberdeen and around the world will be thrilled at todays news.
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.
There has been no significant investment in the Music Hall - a Category A listed building and a nationally-significant concert hall - 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.