BUILDING work is set to start on the St George’s Bristol £5.5 million extension on September 5, following the award of a major grant.
The charity which runs the independent music venue, just off Park Street, has received the official go ahead from its biggest funders Arts Council England (ACE) and Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
St George’s Bristol needed 90% partnership funding in place by the end of June, to be able to draw down the ACE and HLF grants. Bristol City Council cabinet members and Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees gave their support to St George’s with a £600,000 grant, as part of a wider cultural package including Colston Hall and Bristol Old Vic on 29 June.
The venue, which specialises in classical, world, jazz and folk music as well as family and spoken word events, has had Avon Archaeology on site in preparation for the building work.
To date St George’s Bristol has raised £5.2 million from ACE, HLF, as well as charitable trusts, major donors and corporates including Garfield Weston, Foyle, and Wolfson Foundations, Burges Salmon, Smith and Williamson, and Sift.
Leading construction company Galliford Try, which has its regional base in Bristol, has won the tender for the project. The pavilion-style extension includes multi-purpose special events, education workshop and venue hire spaces, a café bar and improved access. The Crypt will house a heritage display retelling long-forgotten stories of the original church building, its music history and the surrounding area.
The project ensures St George’s is fit for purpose for the 21st Century, delivering a quality experience for audience members, artists and schoolchildren, and a financially sustainable future.
News comes as St George’s celebrates its 40th year as a concert venue and its 30th year of staging evening performances.
Chief Executive of St George’s Bristol, Suzanne Rolt, said: “I’m delighted that Mayor Marvin Rees has shown his support for the vital role St George’s plays in the cultural life of Bristol. This grant means we are now within striking distance of our £5.5 million target and our capital project is secure.
“Our ‘Building a Sound Future’ project will improve, extend and upgrade St George’s to make it fit-for-purpose in the 21st century.
“It will enable us to offer facilities for audiences and artists that reflect our high quality of artistic work.
“The new extension offers multi-purpose spaces for special events, education workshops and venue hire, as well as a café bar and improved access. It will give us a long-term and financially sustainable future, which in turn will enable us to deliver our ambitious education and outreach programme.”
She added: “As an independent music venue and registered charity we rely on backing from funders. This support from Bristol City Council enables us to secure grants from Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund.
“Now we can create the kind of facilities that everyone in Bristol can access and enjoy.”
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol said: “Supporting our local venues is a big part of sustaining Bristol’s cultural economy. This investment in the Colston Hall, Bristol Old Vic and St George’s will help them secure their futures as centres of culture.
“It’s important that we invest in the city’s cultural infrastructure much like we do our housing and transport. This sector contributes over £260m a year to the city’s economy, creating jobs, boosting tourism and supporting local business and enterprise. I will continue to work with partners globally, nationally and locally to ensure that the sector continues to thrive.”
The ambitious project is due for completion in October 2017.
For further details of the St George’s Bristol programme of concerts and events go to stgeorgesbristol.co.uk and for information on the project and ways to support please see buildingasoundfuture.co.uk