Brighton Dome welcomes live performance back to its historic spaces following major refurbishment

Brighton Dome’s Grade I and Grade II listed Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre prepare for the return of live performance later this week, following a major capital refurbishment project to restore and protect the buildings for future generations.

Watch the specially commissioned short film celebrating the reopening of these historic spaces, featuring one of Brighton Dome’s In-House Artist AFLO. the poet.

First on stage from 1-4 November is Kin, a brand-new production from award-winning physical theatre company Gecko, coming to the Corn Exchange ahead of its run at London’s National Theatre next year. The show is a powerful reflection on migration, inspired by the journey Artistic Director Amit Lahav’s grandmother made from Yemen to Palestine in 1932. Told through theatre, dance and a compelling global soundtrack, the company’s extraordinary international ensemble draw on their own experiences of migration, racism and empathy to create a poetically intoxicating performance.

The Corn Exchange will also welcome Edinburgh Fringe sell out Jordan Gray; genre-defying musicians Penguin Café; and the return of Brighton Dome’s much loved classical Coffee Concert series. In December, visionary saxophonist Camilla George brings her hypnotising blend of Afrofuturism, hip hop and jazz to the Studio Theatre; and South Korean dance artist Sung Im Herstages her fearless exploration of power and identity, Nutcrusher. The restored spaces will also provide a platform for community events, including musical and spoken word showcases and free family open days, and both will return as core venues for the annual Brighton Festival in May.

Throughout the refurbishment, award-winning architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) have worked painstakingly with contractors to preserve the beauty and legacy of these historic buildings and improve the visitor experience for audiences and artists alike.

Architectural details in the Corn Exchange - from the restored beams of the ceiling’s vast 18 metre single span timber frameto the 34 recreated pilaster columns - reflect the original designs for the building from the early 1800s. In the Studio Theatre, the roof and ceiling have been replaced with historically accurate versions and the crenelated windows have been repaired, with support from The Pebble Trust, ensuring the interior is protected for years to come. 

The return of two major performance and community venues signals the importance of arts and culture to Brighton & Hove and adds vital infrastructure to its creative sector. State of the art facilities have been installed throughout, including the latest 5G technology, which allows experimentation with live collaboration and performance across multiple locations and platforms. A brand-new creative space, Anita’s Room, made possible by The Roddick Foundation, will also support local, national and international artists to experiment and create bold new work.

Elsewhere, there is increased seating capacity in the Corn Exchange and new balcony seating in the Studio Theatre. The addition of a restaurant, from award-winning B-Corp certified Redroaster and two new bars provides more spaces for visitors to relax.

Creating ever more inclusive spaces has been a top priority, with improved access for visitors, staff and performers, including new accessible toilets and modern hearing assistance systems. A public lift now provides wheelchair access to all levels of the building, along with low-level service counters at the bars and crucial backstage improvements to support D/deaf, blindand partially sighted and disabled performers. These improvements are made possible by Bruce Wake Charitable Trust, The Chalk Cliff Trust, Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust, The Lawson Trust and The Rampion Fund at Sussex Community Foundation.

The refurbishment of the Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre is the first phase of a regeneration project by Brighton & Hove City Council, in partnership with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and Brighton & Hove Museums, to cement the Royal Pavilion Estate as a landmark UK destination for heritage and the arts. The circa £38 million project has been realised with support from Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, alongside trusts and foundations and many individual donors. 

Once all phases of the project are complete, the Royal Pavilion Estate is estimated to welcome over 1.5million visitors, support over 1,200 jobs to the city centre and have an economic impact of £68m, making it a significant cultural landmark in the UK. 

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, said:

“Brighton punches above its weight as a city and its thriving cultural and creative sector is a huge part of that success. Restoring these wonderful historic buildings to make them more open to residents and visitors, more useful to the city and its artists, more creative and more sustainable has been a labour of love for the project team and all of us at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival. 

“Our heartfelt thanks to Brighton & Hove City Council for preserving the city's world renowned heritage assets in a way that ensures they can be used and enjoyed by everyone for the next 200 years, and to all our funders and supporters: Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Coast to Capital and the many Trusts & Foundations, individuals and businesses who have played such a vital part in bringing this project to fruition. We have come together believing in the central importance of arts and culture to Brighton & Hove's identity, its economy and its social wellbeing and it is our enormous privilege now to open our doors and share the stories these beautiful buildings hold already and those yet to be written.”

Bella Sankey, Leader ofBrighton & Hove City Council, said:

"The restoration of Brighton Dome’s much loved Corn Exchange and StudioTheatre has been one of the most important and ambitious projects undertaken in the city during recent years and reflects our commitment to protecting and preserving our precious historic buildings.

“The immersive Van Gogh exhibition, held over the summer, gave us our first glimpse of the beautifully restored buildings, which have also been enhanced to provide fantastic new and modern spaces, offering huge potential for culture and the arts to continue to flourish in the city.

“The restoration mixes old and new and provides fascinating historical insight into Brighton Dome through the ages. From a royal riding house to a skating rink, to a centre of suffragette action, Brighton Dome has long been the beating heart of Brighton and this can now continue into the future. 

“Restoring these unique buildings has been a huge and complex undertaking and we are grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Heritage Capital Kickstart Fund and Arts Council England’s Cultural Capital Kickstart Fund for providing financial support, in addition to the main grant funding, and to Coast to Capital which has helped to make this possible.”

Hazel Edwards, South East Area Director, Arts Council England, said: 

"Arts Council England has always been a proud supporter of Brighton Dome's vision to restore these buildings, a relationship that began with our first grant made in 2012. It's fantastic that these spaces can now be enjoyed by everyone, something which should be truly celebrated and is a tribute to the tenacity and persistence of all involved. I can't wait to see what cultural and creative experiences these spaces can play host to."

Stuart McLeod, Director of England - London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: 

“Investing in heritage means investing in the community it belongs to, which is why we are proud to support Brighton & Hove City Council with this project to restore the nationally important Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre on the Royal Pavilion Estate. Thanks to National Lottery players, this will not only preserve this important heritage to be enjoyed by locals and visitors from further afield, but it will also play a significant role in boosting the local economy and aiding the wider regeneration of Brighton.”

Peter Clegg, Founding Partner, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios said:

“Seeing the building open to the public begins the next chapter for this magnificent Regency building, having upgraded and restored the buildings to provide a really dynamic cultural offer for the city and the region. What appealed to us most when we started the project was the Corn Exchange building itself. The original riding stables were one of the Prince Regent’s first buildings in Brighton and is still the widest single-span timber building in the country. Seeing the space now - fully restored, with all the layers that have been added over the years stripped out - you can see what an amazing building it is. But more than that, along with the renovated 1930s Studio Theatre, a new foyer and an upgraded technical installation for all kinds of performance events, Brighton Dome and Corn Exchange is an extraordinary venue for Brighton.”

For more details visit

Contact Us

For media enquiries please email us, or for URGENT enquiries please call us.