By ANISAH ARIF
Bradford Council and Bradford Live attended the launch of the Theatres Trust at Risk Register in London on Tuesday.
As guest speakers of the launch, they spoke about their work to renovate the former Odeon building as a music and events venue in central Bradford.
Every year, Theatres Trust releases its Theatres At Risk Register and the theme of this year’s launch was the significance of campaigning groups building close and mutually beneficial links with local authorities in order to bring at ‘at risk’ theatres back into utilize.
Although it is still on the risk register, The Bradford Odeon was highly praised as it shows to be a great case of a theatre moving towards making good progress in its restoration with the support group working closely with its local authority.
A £10m annual boost is expected to the district’s economy as the building will be refurbished into music and events venue which will help create over hundreds of jobs.
Last year, Bradford live secured the NEC Group as the operator for the former Odeon building. Recently, Bradford Council announced that it will borrow a significant amount of the essential funding to restore the building from the Public Works Loan Board to loan to Bradford Live. This will then be repaid using the rental income from the NEC Group ensuring the loan remains cost neutral to the Council.
The project is also through to the final round of the Government’s Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund after securing support from neighbouring local authorities in West Yorkshire and the NEC Group is putting in £2m as well.
The Odeon building is one of the key heritage buildings of the Bradford district, even thought not classed as one. Both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones have performed there, taking a exclusive place in the hearts of the people. The project will see the building reborn as a venue for live music as well as conferencing and other events.
Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Transport and Planning, who spoke at the event said: “We were delighted to be asked to speak at the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Register launch about the former Odeon building. The key factor in getting the project to this stage has been the dedication of Bradford Live. They’ve put in so much time and effort in securing an operator, it wouldn’t have happened without them.
“Once they secured the NEC Group it was all hands on deck. We were really pleased to secure cross-party political support from across the Leeds City Region, which has been vital in securing the nomination for funding from the Government’s Northern Cultural Regeneration. We are now working with MPs to lobby the government on their final decision. Support from members of the public has also been key in encouraging politicians from all sides to look at ways of securing the building’s future and we’re thankful for the cross-party support we’ve had on this.”
Lee Craven from Bradford Live, said: “I am delighted that the work we have been doing on the Bradford Odeon building has been singled out by the Theatres Trust. It highlights the importance of campaigning groups building close and mutually beneficial links with Local Authorities in order to bring ‘at risk’ theatres back into use, and in so doing stresses the economic advantages successful cooperation can bring to a City. Bradford Council was particularly praised for its enlightened approach and as an excellent example of how constructive and decisive Local Authorities can be.”
Claire Appleby, Architecture Adviser at Theatres Trust, said: “It is fantastic to see the progress made at Bradford Odeon, one of the 35 buildings on our Theatres at Risk Register. This has been made possible through both the hard work and determination of Lee and the Bradford Live team, and the support and backing of the Council. A key driving force has been the Council’s understanding of the opportunity offered by the Odeon, of the benefit of a restored and reopened venue to the local economy, and how this building will also act as a focus for local pride.
“Whilst each theatre on the risk register will demand its own unique path to reopening, we do know that a collaborative approach between the local authority and groups such as Bradford Live works, and will help secure futures for these important community buildings. We would encourage all Councils to have a similar open mind, to see their local theatre as an opportunity, and to embrace and develop creative partnerships to help secure new lives for these much loved local venues.”