Portsmouth Guildhall hopes to have new £130,000 studio space open in the autumn

Computer generated images of the Portsmouth Cutlural Trust's plans for the Guildhall as part of its Renaissance scheme.'Pictures by Hemingway Design
Computer generated images of the Portsmouth Cutlural Trust's plans for the Guildhall as part of its Renaissance scheme.'Pictures by Hemingway Design

PORTSMOUTH is set to get a new performance venue in the autumn, as fundraising for Portsmouth Guildhall’s Studio campaign reaches its final stretch.

The Guildhall is seeking the final £20,000 for its Studio campaign in order to reach its overall target of £130,000.

This is the first phase in the Guildhall’s £15m Renaissance Development Project, an ambitious programme of restoration and improvement which will ensure that the building can continue to thrive for decades to come.

The final amount is needed for a state-of-the-art technical fitout for the Harlequin Room, a tired and under-utilised room on the ground floor of the Guildhall which will be transformed into a 185 seated/250 standing capacity space.

It will create a much-needed multi-purpose facility – used to support emerging talent across the region, develop a diversified arts and contemporary and classical music programme, a youth arts and theatre programme, and provide an accessible hub for artists, community groups and up-and-coming musicians. It will also serve as a conference facility.

The Studio will be supported by an Emerging Creatives programme, which will be primarily situated within the new venue and will aim to support and nurture up-and-coming talent. Local creatives, including musicians, dance groups and small theatre companies, can use the space and facilities to rehearse and practice in.

CEO of the Guildhall, Andy Grays said: ‘The Studio supports our mission to inspire, entertain and transform lives through the arts and in doing so, to attract new audiences and users. Engaging and supporting Portsmouth’s community of emerging creative talent is a huge part of that. The city as a whole has a duty to help the next generation of talent and we look forward to working alongside other venues and spaces in the city to create a vibrant and supportive creative community.’
Work on transforming the Harlequin Room will begin in mid-August, with an opening scheduled for early October. Following listed building consent approval, the room will now be sympathetically restored to its original format, with guidance from designer Wayne Hemingway’s company HemingwayDesign, which is the creative force behind the Guildhall Renaissance Development. 

Mr Hemingway said: ‘The Studio campaign is the first significant step in the Guildhall’s overall restoration.

‘Alongside the Guildhall team, we’re working to create a culturally outstanding venue that will not only raise Portsmouth’s profile in the region but also nationally. It’s ambitious but it’s inclusive, reflecting the building’s heritage and history, and at the same time it will have a lot to offer many people in the city.’

On Sunday, November 18, Wayne will be hosting an exclusive fundraising evening for just 80 guests. He will talk about how he transitioned from fashion designer into a social and cultural designer, specialising in housing regeneration, interior and workspace design, and cultural events. 

The Studio Campaign has been supported by various fundraising events and donations. Arts charity Hornpipe Theatre Company has committed to sponsor the development of a children’s theatre programme within the Studio for at least its first two years. 

Councillor Steve Pitt, in charge of cultural matters for Portsmouth City Council, added: ‘Portsmouth City Council fully supports the Studio campaign and the wider Renaissance Project that will benefit the city and its inhabitants with a culturally-significant arts venue.’

Individuals and businesses are invited to get involved in the fundraising through a number of methods. 

People can become a member, with four levels of membership available which provide exclusive benefits. They can secure permanent recognition by sponsoring a record which will be added to the Studio’s walls, make a donation online or at the box office, or buy tickets for the monthly prize draw, which has included some great prizes such as a VIP box at the O2 Arena to see Britney Spears. There will also be various fundraising events and activities.

Business opportunities range from corporate memberships, which include naming rights of the building or the Studio; sponsoring a music programme, and attending or sponsoring this year’s annual Black & White Ball gala dinner and auction. Advertising opportunities are also available and offer businesses the opportunity to reach audiences of more than 260,000 every year. 

For more information, contact commercial manager Katherine Scott on katherine.scott@portsmouthguildhall.org.uk or call (023) 9387 0205.