Venue Expansion: Band on the Wall secures £1.65 million Capital funding from Arts Council England

Today Inner City Music Limited, the charity that owns and operates Manchester’s multi award-winning music venue Band on the Wall, announced Arts Council England has approved £1.65 million stage two Capital funding for the venue’s Bigger, Better, Stronger expansion plan.

The funding represents a significant milestone in plans to expand the venue and bring the derelict Cocozza building, at the rear of Band on the Wall, back to life.

Gavin Sharp, CEO, Inner City Music said:

“Band on the Wall has worked closely with Arts Council England for many years. The welcome news of a successful stage two Capital funding will help transform Band on the Wall into a world-class space for music performance, education and cultural engagement for the people of Manchester and further afield.

The Capital funding will allow Band on the Wall to significantly enhance its facilities for learning and participation activity and performance, and the expanded building will be a space for the public to experience both music from around the world, and participate in programmes that explore and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the local area.”

The expansion plans see the main venue capacity increase from 350 to 500, significantly improved facilities for education and community engagement programmes, and the Picturehouse Bar remodeled with external terrace space increased and a new small second venue for emerging artists. 

The planned learning complex will include a rooftop A/V suite, allowing young people and education participants to create new work by engaging with international touring artists.

The new learning spaces will be home to Band on the Wall’s improved archive facilities, enabling the organisation to better catalogue its rich library of historical content. Selected archive materials will continue to be exhibited throughout the venue.

The Cocozza building is one of only a few remaining structures from the days of the Victorian Smithfield Market. Inner City Music is in the final stages of negotiating the purchase of the building and, subject to funding, the building façade will be saved and fully restored.

The inclusion of the Cocozza Building creates new opportunities in the Northern Quarter and Ancoats areas, and it is planned to install digital artworks in place of venue windows. These changing displays will provide a canvas for artists to tell the story of not just Band on the Wall, but the surrounding area.

Arts Council England’s Capital programme supports organisations to develop resilience by giving them the right buildings and equipment to deliver their work, and to become more sustainable businesses. This capital investment will help Arts Council England to achieve its goal of making the arts more sustainable, resilient and innovative by prioritising the maintenance and improvement of existing buildings.

Jane Beardsworth, Director, North, Arts Council England, said:

“Band on the Wall is a hugely popular music venue which appeals to local, regional and national audiences. It showcases the best in upcoming and established contemporary musicians and we’re delighted that artists and audiences will benefit from our investment in its expansion plans.”

Band on the Wall has championed and celebrated the value of diverse music for the best part of a century. It is a living music library and allows people to access, enjoy and participate in the best music of many cultures in a stimulating and social environment.

The next phase of the Bigger, Better, Stronger expansion project is the development of a world-class music and heritage engagement programme and Activity Plan, partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). These programmes will focus on the music, song, storytelling and dance heritage of Manchester’s rich and varied migrant communities.

Band on the Wall is actively looking for supporters to help make the expansion happen – visit our charity page to find out how to get involved.