he planned redevelopment of Wolverhampton’s Civic Halls and Grand Theatre as part of the City of Wolverhampton Council’s regeneration programme is set to generate 100 new jobs. The council has laid down a total of £174.4 million investment in the city over the next 12 months to stimulate economic growth and increase employment opportunities.
£6.6m Black Country Growth Deal Funding has been secured towards a £10.4 million refurbishment of these two cultural and entertainment venues, bringing with it jobs in areas such as administration, the box office and work for sub-contractors and suppliers.
The Grand Theatre will receive £400,000 for the reconfiguration of the stalls bar into the Encore Lounge to maximise the use of space, provide more seating and create a small stage for extra performances, such as comedy and live music.
The remainder of the funding will be spent on the Civic Halls, with work due to begin early next year.
It will see the Civic Hall given a second balcony - raising standing capacity from 3,000 to 3,600 and seated capacity from 2,026 to 2,700. The Wulfrun Hall will also get a balcony, increasing its standing capacity from 1,134 to 1,334 and seating from 641 to 841. Bar, circulation spaces and toilet facilities will be revamped to give visitors a much improved experience and access arrangements for disabled visitors will be upgraded.
Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “The Civic Halls is a nationally recognised and popular venue among UK audiences and the entertainment industry and attracts very large audiences.
“The refurbishment of these venues will open up further opportunities for hosting conferences and putting on bigger and more diverse shows.
“Increasing the size of the stage at the Civic Hall will enable it to accommodate bigger productions including tours which the region cannot currently attract.
“There is huge potential for attracting new audiences from across the West Midlands to live events and music, festivals, the arts, culture and night life.
“The improved facilities will attract even more visitors to Wolverhampton city centre and the wider sub-region resulting in the creation of more jobs in the local economy.”
It is anticipated the formal planning application for the Civic Halls will be submitted imminently, with developers being sought, and work scheduled to start early next year.
There will be a phased re-opening of the venues with full completion anticipated to be mid-2017.
However the venues will be open to accommodate the Grand Slam of Darts in November 2016.