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Heritage Lottery Fund vetoes Brighton Dome’s £15m upgrade bid

Brighton Dome
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The Heritage Lottery Fund has rejected a £15 million joint bid made by Brighton Dome and the city’s Royal Pavilion to develop the two sites.

Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival, the organisation that runs the dome’s Concert Hall, Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre, wants to carry out works costing £18.5 million to improve the three performance spaces.

Proposed changes to the venues include refurbishing the grade-I listed Corn Exchange to increase its seating capacity from 320 to 500, creating a new space for artists to develop work, improving dressing rooms for the studio and introducing a new bar/café. There are also plans for a tunnel to link all three spaces.

This is part of a £35 million revamp of the Royal Pavilion Estate, which also includes the pavilion and museums, to reconnect the historic buildings. Arts Council England has indicated it will provide around £6 million for the project.

But HLF has refused the £14.9 million bid due to insufficient funds, after more applications for funding were made than money was available.

Andrew Comben, chief executive of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival, said he was disappointed that the HLF grant had not been secured but hoped to make future applications to the body.

“This project – which involves a major revitalisation of Brighton Dome’s heritage venues – will aim to secure the organisation’s financial sustainability, encourage new audiences, reduce running costs, and enable us to deliver our 2020 vision: to be one of Europe’s leading arts festivals and a year-round destination for artists and audiences,” said Comben.

He added: “We are very encouraged by the feedback given to us by HLF trustees and delighted they are so supportive of our vision. We will continue to work with HLF and all our partners on developing our plans with the local community.”

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