Brighton Dome has revealed the latest stage in the refurbishment of the Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre. The Grade I and Grade II listed buildings, located on the historic Royal Pavilion Estate, are being revitalised as arts venues and facilities in the centre of Brighton.
The restoration project will reaffirm the Royal Pavilion Estate as a key cultural destination in Brighton & Hove City Council’s economic regeneration. The project has today received £1 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) Capital Kickstart Fund, part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Culture Recovery Fund package to support capital projects facing challenges caused by Covid-19.
Over the last year, work has progressed with major architectural renovations, including essential repairs to the Corn Exchange roof. Over 16,000 slate tiles, weighing 55 tonnes, have now been replaced to protect the original 19th century building which was commissioned by the Prince Regent as a riding house next to his stables, now Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Many of the original interior heritage features are being restored using specialist craft skills. 6,500 linear meters of solid oak cladding has been installed along the length of the Corn Exchange walls and roof arches and 34 pilaster columns have been recreated from archive drawings to match how the building would have looked over 200 years ago.
Further internal improvements that will benefit visitors and audiences attending events include the installation of new lifts and a dry air cooling system for maintaining temperature control in the venue.
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said:
“Brighton Dome has been part of the city’s history for over 200 years and we want to protect its legacy for future generations to enjoy and for artists to continue to perform here. The refurbishment of these heritage buildings has been incredibly complex and this welcome support from the NLHF has come at a crucial point, as we begin to look forward with a renewed determination to bring the arts back to our audiences and communities.”
The Royal Pavilion Estate regeneration project is a long-term collaboration between Brighton & Hove City Council, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and the Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust. The longer-term vision aims to reunite the historic Estate as a cultural destination by equipping it for a sustainable future, a centre for heritage and the arts which reflects the unique spirit of Brighton. It is anticipated that the revitalised Royal Pavilion Estate will support 1,241 FTE jobs and have an economic impact of £68m.
Brighton & Hove City Council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty added:
“This is a symbol of hope for Brighton & Hove’s cultural recovery after an especially difficult year for the arts. We look forward to when the city’s venues can welcome back artists and audiences safely, with improved access for everyone to enjoy cultural experiences. We are extremely grateful to the NLHF for their continued support for the Royal Pavilion Estate. Covid-19 has increased the financial pressures on the work programme as well as across council services and the cultural sector. The funding recognises the importance of the project to the cultural and economic life of the city and will set us on the right track to complete the work.”
The Corn Exchange redevelopment will improve venue access for visitors, staff and performers, including new accessible toilets, hearing assistance systems and a public lift providing wheelchair access to all levels of the buildings. A new Creative Space will be available for community groups and emerging artists to use for workshops, meetings and rehearsals.
The latest project update is on Brighton Dome’s website:
Images © Carlotta Luke