Brighton Dome Corn Exchange Window

Brighton Dome Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre Refurbishment Update

Brighton & Hove City Council have published details of a plan to complete the restoration of Brighton Dome Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre, with work due to start within the next two weeks.

The council is currently finalising the appointment of an interim contractor to carry out emergency work to the historic buildings, after the main contractor ceased trading in July 2019. The work includes carrying out essential weatherproofing and drainage works to protect the historic Grade I and Grade II listed buildings.

At a meeting on 10 October 2019, councillors on the Policy and Resources Committee are being asked to agree a plan to procure and appoint a new main contractor after the previous contractor, R Durtnell & Sons, ceased trading, entering into a Company Voluntary Arrangement with its creditors. Since then, the council has secured the site, installed 24-hour security, and the project’s design team, led by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, has carried out extensive surveys to establish the remaining work needed.

Councillor Alan Robins chair of the Tourism Economic Development, Culture and Communities Committee said:

“We are committed to completing the refurbishment of these unique buildings to protect their long-term future in the cultural heart of the city. Our priority is to reduce any future delays, bring the buildings back into use as soon as possible and mitigate the financial impact on both the council and Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival. Completion of this project will protect and secure the future of this unique estate so it continues to be a world class destination for residents and visitors.”

Completed restoration work so far includes:

  • The 200-year old Corn Exchange roof has been strengthened and stripped back to reveal the original widest span timber frame building in the country, formerly used as the Prince Regent’s riding house.
  • The unique Corn Exchange windows have been restored with approximately 185 panes of glass replaced in each of the large windows.
  • Essential repairs to the 1930s art deco statue of Ceres above the Corn Exchange entrance.

The 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.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival added:

“We are grateful to Brighton & Hove City Council and the project team for their commitment and swift action on moving to appoint an interim contractor. We look forward to seeing the refurbishment work progress as we go into the final phase of the project and towards re-opening.”

The major refurbishment of the Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre is the first phase of a wider project to re-affirm Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate as a key cultural destination by equipping it for a sustainable future. The longer-term vision aims to reunite the historic Estate created by George IV in the early 19th century to create a centre for heritage, culture and the performing 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.

£19.13 million of the total project costs has been raised from grant funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, Coast to Capital Local Growth Fund, private trusts, individual donations and contributions from Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival’s own resources. The Build Brighton Dome community appeal has raised over £130,000 from public donations with match funding of every £1 by The Roddick Foundation. The additional council funding through borrowing of £5 million would bring the council’s overall contribution to the project to £9.3 million – 32.8% of the total costs.

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