Following a £1.3million investment, the basement of Portsmouth Guildhall has been transformed into The BASE, an exciting, new creative space for 11-25 year olds

Following a £1.3million investment, the basement of Portsmouth Guildhall has been transformed into The BASE, an exciting, new creative space for 11-25 year olds.

A safe and welcoming space, The BASE provides access for young people to a band room with backline equipment, a production studio with a DJ mixing space, a multimedia suite with specialist software, a performance space and a lounge/exhibition area.

Throughout the summer a series of drop-in sessions will be available for young people to come in and see what The BASE has to offer. Workshops that will include ‘Build a Band’, ‘Drum and Bass Open Decks’ and ‘Cyphers with Music Fusion’ are being made available which will allow young people to explore the space and test some of the kit The BASE is equipped with including a selection of electric, acoustic and bass guitars, amps, Mac minis with creative software, a digital sound desk and a full Pearl drum kit.  

Free memberships for The BASE are being offered to all 11-25 year olds within the PO postcode area which can be signed up for online or on first visit to The BASE.        

The PO postcode area contains some of the most deprived wards in the country. The BASE will remove barriers to engagement, prioritising young people who are typically under-represented in creative provisions and who may not usually have access to creative opportunities.

It is also widely reported that post-pandemic, young people have become more disengaged and isolated with 1 in 4 suffering heightened anxiety and poor mental health. The BASE will offer a nurturing environment for all, where young people can relax and explore their creative potential.   

Young people have been at the heart of the creation and development of The BASE with a youth panel formed to influence key decisions around the design, programming and initiatives. A pilot programme of activities designed to test their feasibility and scalability, supported by a £28,857 Trailblazer fund from Youth Music, ran from February this year, with the most popular activities now transferring to continue in the new space.

Young people were also able to make their mark on the new space through a mural painting workshop, led by local artist Mister Samo, which will be visible to all users of The BASE.      

The development has also seen the transformation of the Guildhall’s main toilet facilities providing accessible and gender inclusive facilities, plus one of the city’s few changing space facilities.

The transformation has been made by possible through a series of funders including Portsmouth City Council, Arts Council England, The Foyle Foundation and The Clothworkers Foundation.

Portsmouth City Council has supplied £550,000 towards the project, with a further £10,000 contributed through the Charles Dickens Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy fund.

Leader of the City Council with responsibility for culture, Cllr Steve Pitt, said “I’m excited to see this innovative space launch at Portsmouth Guildhall for young people to meet up and explore their creative potential together, and we’re pleased to be able to work with Portsmouth Guildhall to provide funding of over £500,000 for this valuable cultural space in the city. It’s important that we can develop new opportunities like this, so our residents can access a range of cultural activities and facilities, making Portsmouth a great place to live.”

£499,000 was allocated from Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Programme which has the vision of “building a fit for the future cultural sector that all members of the community can access”. The Guildhall Trust was one of 66 cultural organisations from across the country to be awarded a grant under the programme.

Phil Gibby, South West Area Director, Arts Council England, said “It’s fantastic to see the transformation of Portsmouth Guildhall’s basement into a dynamic new space for young people. Thanks to public funding we can help cultural venues around the country improve their infrastructure and better serve their communities. It’s not just bricks and mortar – with better buildings comes improved accessibility, new technology, and environmentally responsible decisions that’ll benefit residents for years to come. We can’t wait to see the positive impact this investment will have on children and young people in Portsmouth – an Arts Council Priority Place.”

A further £50,000 was awarded by The Clothworkers’ Foundation which aims to improve the lives of people and communities, particularly those facing disadvantage and marginalisation and £45,000 was awarded by The Foyle Foundation, an independent grant making trust which is a major funder of the Arts and Learning.

Designed by award-winning Benedetti Architects, whose recent projects include the extension and redevelopment of the BAFTA headquarters in London, and multi-disciplinary design studio HemingwayDesign, who have a legacy and portfolio that spans four decades, with clients including Shelter, The National Trust, Southbank Centre & TFL.

Project and cost management was provided by Equals Consulting whose clients include The British Museum and Blackheath Halls and Emsworth-based design and construction company, Chalk Creatives, were contracted to complete the works. Chief Executive for The Guildhall Trust, Andy Grays, said “The transformation of the basement into The BASE is a significant step forward in the Renaissance of Portsmouth Guildhall to ensure that the venue continues to thrive and serve the community for the next century. Our Get Involved programme of activities is at the heart of what we do to inspire, entertain and transform lives and this purpose-built facility will enable us to expand our programme and have even greater impact. We have seen firsthand the impact of our work and the benefits that music and arts-based activities can have on a young person’s resilience, mental health and wellbeing, as well as developing their social and creative skills”.

A range of opportunities are now available for businesses and organisations that would like to align their brand with The BASE and support young people in the community.

Find out more about sessions and workshops and sessions and sign up for membership to The BASE at: www.thebaseguildhall.com

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