Portsmouth Guildhall has stood proudly at the heart of Portsmouth since 1881 and we are now embarking on an ambitious programme of Renaissance to ensure that the venue continues to thrive for the next 130 years, supporting our vision to become one of the country’s leading cultural organisations inspiring, entertaining and transforming lives.

July 2024: 

The BASE – The transformation of the Guildhall basement into a creative space for young people is complete!

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 of 2024 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.

Band Room at The BASE

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.

Production Suite - The BASE

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.

£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.

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.

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.


The Renaissance of Portsmouth Guildhall is an ambitious programme of development to ensure that the venue continues to thrive for future generations and support the Trust’s vision of becoming one of the leading cultural organisations in the country to inspire, entertain and transform lives. The creation of The Base is the next step of the Renaissance programme following the development of The Lens Studio space in 2018, with the refurbishment of the main auditorium and front of house and bar facilities to follow in the near future.

You can find out more about The Base at: www.thebaseguildhall.com

Young people who are interested in joining the BASE Panel, practitioners who are interested in using The Base and potentially collaborating on a programme of workshops, and businesses who are interested in exploring opportunities of how they can support young people in the community are encouraged to get in touch!

Call Hayley Reay on 023 9387 0193 or email hello@thebaseguildhall.com

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