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New era for live music in Manchester as Band on The Wall reopens

  • Date: 1 October 2009
  • Area: North
Mica Paris plays at Band on the Wall's opening night

Mica Paris plays at Band on the Wall's opening night. Credit: Image courtesy of Band on the Wall

Legendary jazz and world music venue Band on the Wall reopened on 25 September 2009 with a breathtaking one-off concert featuring renowned jazz artists and long time patrons, pianist Julian Joseph and vocalist Mica Paris.

Speaking before the opening night, Julian Joseph said: ‘All artists have a home at the Band on the Wall. Since it closed in 2004 we've had to make do with the memory of the great gigs now emblazoned in the mind from its previous incarnation while the space had serious reconstructive surgery. What a privilege for me to stand on the precipice of this new era as both a musician and a patron alongside Mica Paris, with whom I will be sharing the stage. I am humbled to be present at this momentous occasion and I look forward to a celebration fitting for the high esteem and magnitude of feeling we all share for this dear venue.’

Band on the Wall has been one of the north west’s most important music venues since the 1930’s, when musicians used to play from a platform set halfway up a wall above the crowds. In the late 1970’s 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 £2.5million from the Arts Council towards the refurbishment, alongside support from Manchester City Council and the Lottery Heritage Fund. The £4million 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 at Arts Council England, North West, says: ‘Arts Council’s £2.5million 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.'

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