27 September 2017

World class venue takes shape at St George's Bristol

An ambitious £6.3million project to transform St George’s Bristol into a world-class venue and creative space for music and ideas is less than six months from completion.

St George’s, just off Park Street, is famed for its acoustic and quality of classical, jazz, folk, world, roots and indie music, as well as spoken word and award-winning family events. Artists range from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Chineke! Orchestra, composer and pianist Philip Glass, to Bjork, Cerys Matthews, Elvis Costello, Ute Lemper, Gregory Porter and Georgie Fame.

On 23 February 2018 it will relaunch as a world-class venue and creative space for music and ideas. It will be the first of several Bristol arts venues currently undergoing major capital works, supported by the National Lottery, to relaunch. It also feeds into the cultural strategy for the city to become an even more dynamic, open, distinctive and enjoyable place to live, work and visit.

And today St George’s Chief Executive Suzanne Rolt will publicly announce the charity has secured £6.3million pound funding for the ‘Building a Sound Future’ capital project. Funding has come through a number of sources including Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund, Bristol City Council, charitable trusts and foundations, major donors, its Apollo Club and members, and crowd fund supporters.

She will also be joined by the team from Midas Construction, part of the Midas Group, one of the UK's largest independent construction and property services providers, which is leading on construction work.

The ‘Building a Sound Future’ project will improve facilities for audience members, visitors, and artists. It will also enable St George’s to secure a sustainable financial future.

Key elements of the project are:

  • A pavilion-style extension designed by award-winning architecture firm Patel Taylor
  • A new café bar, featuring an exquisite Apollo Sculpture from artist Luke Jerram
  • Creation of multi-purpose spaces for corporate and private venue hire including weddings
  • Improved access for visitors with disabilities and ‘green room’ facilities for artists
  • A heritage interpretation space within the Crypt, sharing stories of St George’s historic past, as well as activities for visitors, families and schools
  • Major restoration and repair of stone work including the main steps

St George’s, a registered charity, still has £10,000 to raise outside of the main capital appeal, to ensure the Main Hall is ready for concerts with painting, minor repairs, new chairs and upgrading the in-house PA and lighting desk. Other fundraising includes securing sponsorship and advertising to support the relaunch celebrations, events, and new season.

The hall has been closed over the summer period to allow for work, but reopens for concerts and events from September 25, as work continues on the extension. St George’s closes again after its last concert in December, to connect the new extension with the historic building.

Future milestones in the build project include delivery of the large glass panels for the front of the new extension, a dramatic oculus allowing light to flood in, and installation of the Apollo glass sculpture.

Chief Executive of St George’s Bristol, Suzanne Rolt, commented “This is an exciting moment in our ambitious Building a Sound Future project, with changes happening on all fronts – the extension is emerging alongside the existing hall, major repairs to our historic front stone steps are nearly complete and dramatic changes are taking shape throughout the Crypt.

“We will relaunch on 23 February 2018 with a new two-storey extension that cements our status as a world-class hall and creative space for music and ideas.”

She added: “None of this would have been possible without the magnificent support we have received from our major funders and individual donors. With less than six months before we relaunch, St George’s has secured the £6.3million needed to transform this extraordinary hall and make it accessible to audiences across Bristol and beyond. It’s a dream come true!”

Derek Quinn, Executive Director for Midas Construction, said: “This is a highly prestigious project for the South West, and for Midas Group as a Bristol-based business, and we are delighted to be part of delivering a new chapter in the life of this wonderful building and the artistic excellence it hosts and promotes.

“The innovative and exciting designs for St Georges are matched by the attention to detail and customer service we are committed to bringing to the project to create a landmark venue which Bristol and indeed the UK can be proud of.”

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