£5.8 million development grant for Pavilion Estate

An artist's impression of how the revamped Corn Exchange will look
An artist's impression of how the revamped Corn Exchange will look

Funding secured for the first stage of ambitious £35 million redevelopment proposals.

Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate has been given £5.8 million to put towards ambitious plans to breathe new life into the site while preserving the heritage hotspot for generations to come.

The Arts Council England awarded the money to Brighton and Hove City Council and Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival - the joint custodians of the estate - and it will go towards funding the first stage of ambitious £35 million proposals to redevelop the site.

The long-term goal is to reconnect the historic buildings and landscape of the Royal Pavilion Estate to create a world class destination for heritage, culture and the performing arts.

To start with, however, the £5.8 million will be used for the first phase of the project –specifically a refurbishment of the Grade I Brighton Dome Corn Exchange and a major renovation of the Grade II Studio Theatre.

The hope is that the work will enable Brighton Dome’s three venues – the Concert Hall, the Corn Exchange and the Studio Theatre - to improve their facilities and attract new audiences as a result.

Those behind the plans believe Brighton Festival has the potential to establish itself as one of Europe’s leading arts events.

The proposals include a ground floor café at the Studio Theatre, opening on to New Road; a new viewing gallery and extra seating at the Corn Exchange; new offices, catering facilities and back of house accommodation and a service tunnel between the venues.

Andrew Comben, chief executive of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival, welcomed the news. He said: “We are delighted and proud to be awarded this funding from Arts Council England. As the first phase of the broader vision for the Royal Pavilion Estate, the development plans for Brighton Dome Corn Exchange and the Studio Theatre form a major part of our goal to be one of Europe’s leading arts festivals and a yearround international destination for artists and audiences.

“This is just the start.”

The overall development plans will rely on further funding, and applications for the rest of the necessary funding are being worked on. The team behind the bids are confident this initial £5.8 million grant is a step in the right direction.

Penny Thompson, chief executive of Brighton and Hove City Council said: “Brighton Dome is a key part of Brighton’s Cultural Quarter and the city’s rich heritage. We want to ensure that it is preserved whilst it also continues to flourish as a vibrant cultural destination for residents, audiences, artists and visitors.

“As the first phase of the larger and longer term ambition to connect, preserve and celebrate the Royal Pavilion Estate, this project is in a unique position; bringing the arts and heritage sectors together to ensure they are sustainable, resilient and innovative, and benefiting audiences, residents, community groups, schools, resident and visiting artists, tourists, conference delegates, the regional digital community and local businesses amongst others.”

Hedley Swain, area director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival make an important contribution to the artistic and cultural fabric of Brighton and we are pleased to be able to support its continued development through this capital investment.

“This project will enhance the experience that it is able to offer to audiences, whilst also supporting the organisation’s long term resilience – both of which are key to its continued success.”