Portsmouth Guildhall seeks final £20k for its Studio Development Project
Portsmouth Guildhall seeks final £20k for its Studio Development Project

Portsmouth Guildhall seeks final £20k for its Studio Development Project

Portsmouth Guildhall has announced that it is seeking the final £20,000 for its Studio Campaign in order to reach its overall target of £130,000. This is the first phase in the Guildhall’s £15 million Renaissance Development Project, an ambitious programme of restoration and improvement which will ensure that the Guildhall can continue to thrive for the next 130 years and be a venue of which the city is proud.

Thanks to the Guildhall’s levy and fundraising activities to date, it is on target to reach its fundraising goal and is now seeking the final £20,000. This is needed for a state-of-the-art technical fitout for the Harlequin Room, a tired and under-utilised room on the ground floor of the Guildhall which will be transformed into a 185 seated/250 standing capacity Studio space. Creating a much-needed multi-purpose facility, the new Studio will be used to support emerging talent across the region, develop a diversified arts and contemporary and classical music programme, a youth arts and theatre programme, and provide an accessible hub for artists, community groups and up-and-coming musicians. It will also serve as a first class conference facility, adding a versatile space to the Guildhall’s existing roster of venues.

The Guildhall is already a venue used by local community groups that includes artists, a skiffle orchestra, a singing group for the over 50s, baby concerts and a chamber music series. The Studio will be supported by an Emerging Creatives programme, which will be primarily situated within the new venue. Following the closure of many small performance spaces and lack of affordable rehearsal spaces, the Emerging Creatives programme will support and nurture up-and-coming talent. The Studio will provide local creatives, including musicians, dance groups and small theatre companies, with the space and facilities needed to rehearse and practice, with the programme offering a new and broad range of entertainment to the city. The programme will run alongside activities aimed at providing people with access to high quality cultural activities through workshops and education programmes.

“The Studio supports our mission to inspire, entertain and transform lives through the arts and in doing so, to attract new audiences and users,” commented Andy Grays, CEO of Portsmouth Guildhall. “Engaging and supporting Portsmouth’s community of emerging creative talent is a huge part of that. The city as a whole has a duty to help the next generation of talent and we look forward to working alongside other venues and spaces in the city to create a vibrant and supportive creative community.”


Work on transforming the Harlequin Room will begin in mid-August, with a soft opening scheduled for early October. Following listed building consent approval, the room will now be sympathetically restored to its original format, with guidance from designer Wayne Hemingway’s company HemingwayDesign, which is the creative force behind the Guildhall Renaissance Development.

“The Studio Campaign is the first significant step in the Guildhall’s overall restoration,” Hemingway commented. “Alongside the Guildhall team, we’re working to create a culturally outstanding venue that will not only raise Portsmouth’s profile in the region but also nationally. It’s ambitious but it’s inclusive, reflecting the building’s heritage and history, and at the same time it will have a lot to offer many people in the city.”

On Sunday 18th November, Wayne will be hosting an exclusive fundraising evening for just 80 guests. He will talk about how he transitioned from fashion designer into a social and cultural designer, specialising in housing regeneration, interior and workspace design, and cultural events.

The Studio Campaign has been vigorously supported by various fundraising events and donations. Arts charity Hornpipe Theatre Company has committed to sponsor the development of a Children’s Theatre programme within the Studio over the first two years of the space being open. The charity aims to promote, maintain, improve and advance education, particularly through the encouragement of the arts of drama, ballet, music, singing, literature, sculpture and painting.

The Southsea Skiffle Orchestra and the Recharge Singing Group, two of the community groups based at the Guildhall who will benefit from the development of the Studio, held a fundraising event earlier this year in May. The event was supported by Stephen Morgan MP and raised £700 toward the campaign.

Other funds have come from sponsorship, a dinner with Spike Edney and the project is fully supported by the City Council.

Councillor Steve Pitt added, “Portsmouth City Council fully supports the Studio Campaign and the wider Renaissance Project that will benefit the city and its inhabitants with a culturally-significant arts venue.”

Local individuals and businesses are invited to get involved in the fundraising and can do so via a number of methods.

Individuals can become a member, with four levels of membership available which provide exclusive benefits while supporting the Guildhall’s work in the community. They can secure permanent recognition by sponsoring a record which will be added to the Studio’s walls; make a donation online or at the Box Office; or buy tickets for the monthly prize draw, which has included some great prizes such as a VIP box at the O2 Arena to see Britney Spears. And there are various fundraising events and activities, including the forthcoming dinner with Wayne Hemingway, as well as playing the Portsmouth Lottery, which supports many local causes, of which the Guildhall is one.

Business opportunities range from corporate memberships, which include naming rights of the building or the Studio; sponsoring a music programme; and attending or sponsoring this year’s annual Black & White Ball gala dinner and auction. Advertising opportunities are also available and offer businesses the opportunity to reach audiences of more than 260,000 every year.

For more information about any of the above, please get in touch with Katherine Scott, Commercial Manager: katherine.scott@portsmouthguildhall.org.uk / 023 9387 0205.

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