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Band On The Wall gets a lifeline

Lynda Moyo on Manchester’s favourite live music venue and its multi-million pound makeover

Written by . Published on July 13th 2007.

Band On The Wall gets a lifeline

Band On The Wall is back and this time claims to be bigger, better and more technologically robust than before. £3.2m has been awarded from Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as a substantial donation from the mystery Band On The Wall Knight or Knightette in shining armor. Answers on a postcard please.

The much-loved venue, which has played host to the likes of The Joy Division and The Buzzcocks, as well as a host of world artists, will be a welcome, old but new addition to the Manchester music scene.

Peter Hewitt, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said, “Band On The Wall, is an excellent example of Manchester’s musical heritage. We hope our funding will enable the venue to the build on its reputation and become a centre for excellence that will foster the musical talent of tomorrow.”

Since 2005 Band on The Wall has lain dormant, leaving many people mourning the loss of a quality live music venue in Manchester: especially one which didn’t pander to the mainstream. The venue unfortunately fell into disrepair and the renovation project suffered several setbacks.

The grant will allow for new facilities for performances, education, recording and an audio and audio-visual music archive. It will aim to combine the old with the new, restoring the original 19th Century features whilst kitting it out with the latest sound system. A very ambitious proposal, some might say, which perhaps should be renamed ‘Band On The Technologically Enhanced Multia-media Audio Visual Plasma Screen’ as opposed to our trusty old favourite, Band On The Wall. Hopes are that the improvement will reinstate it back to its glory days as a hub for local musical talent and visiting artists, all with the necessary but not excessive amount of multi-media enhancements of the 21st Century.

On top of these changes, the money will also allow Band on the Wall to expand. The adjacent building, to be named The Picturehouse, will be transformed into a multi-use new space for music and the moving image, performances, online music archive and information central.

Ian Croal, Chief Executive of Inner City Music, the registered charity that runs Band On The Wall said: “The funding will also help us to restore the two buildings now involved in the project and to develop a new music archive facility. The grants recognise the important role the venue has played in the musical life of Manchester over several decades, in addition to contributing to its growing future role.”

The new building will be designed to cater for and welcome all who pass through its creative doors with improved disabled facilities and education programmes and facilities for people of all ages.

Work will begin in January 2008 and the venue should reopen later the same day - although for the less optimistic among us, expect it sometime in early 2009. Manchester has waited for two years for it to be knocked down, restored, in fact anything, so what’s another 6 months?

If the project lives up to its potential it should make Band on The Wall one of Manchester’s liveliest live venues.

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