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Band on the Wall

  • Date: 9 October 2009
  • Artform: Music
  • Area: North
Band on the Wall Band on the Wall , Photo: Brian Slater

Legendary jazz and world music venue Band on the Wall, which closed for refurbishment back in 2004, reopened in September 2009 after receving £2.5 million in funding from Arts Council England.

Band on the Wall has been one of the north west’s most important music venues since the 1930s, when musicians used to play from a platform set halfway up a wall above the crowds.

In the late 1970s it became the central focus for Manchester’s punk scene, giving bands such as The Fall, Buzzcocks and Joy Division their first appearances, before it went on to establish a global reputation for showcasing a vast array of the world’s leading musicians and artists such as Bjork and Hugh Masekela.

The not-for-profit venue was refurbished by Inner City Music, a charity that receives regular funding from Arts Council England. They were awarded an additional £2.5 million from the Arts Council towards the refurbishment, alongside support from Manchester City Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The £4 million investment means the venue now boasts an increased audience capacity of 300, improved disabled access, a state of the art sound system, audio-visual and sound studios and education suites that will be used to host an extensive array of learning and participation programmes. It also makes use of a previously derelict building next door to provide a brand new entrance, box office, social space and café area called the Picturehouse.

Eddie Thomas, Music Officer, Arts Council England, North West, says: ‘Arts Council’s £2.5 million investment has supported a much needed, large-scale refurbishment that enables the venue to take its place as a 21st century home for jazz and world music in the north west. Through this investment, Band on the Wall is able to not only build on its reputation as a lynchpin venue on the national touring circuit but also offer new high-level support, development opportunities and information for artists, audiences and young people alike.

'We are delighted to have played an instrumental part in the refurbishment of Band on the Wall as part of our commitment to supporting the development and growth of Manchester’s incredible music cluster, and eagerly look forward to the coming months as audiences in the north west reacquaint themselves with this outstanding music venue.’
Gavin Sharp, CEO of Band on the Wall, acknowledged the crucial role of funding in bringing the venue back to life. He says: ‘We would not have been able to do any of this without the support of the Arts Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and Manchester City Council. We are incredibly grateful for their help and look forward to reclaiming our place as one of the cornerstones of the north west’s music scene.’