Plans to rejuvenate Aberdeen’s historic Music Hall have been given a boost with initial approval from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The organisation has also awarded a £700,000 grant to the ambitious project, which aims to ensure the city centre venue remains at the heart of cultural life in the Granite City.
Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA), which operates the Union Street venue, welcomed the announcement, which it says will help them “reveal and share” the unique history of the Music Hall.
Around £7 million will eventually be spent on the iconic venue, which opened in 1822. Creative Scotland has put forward £1.5 million for the refurbishment project, while Aberdeen City Council previously agreed to allocate £1 million.
A further £1.25 million is coming from APA’s own restoration fund.
The cash boost will be used to upgrade, restore and conserve the Music Hall, while also improving access around the building and creating both a studio and new “creative learning” space.
APA chief executive Jane Spiers said the funding takes the organisation a step nearer to regenerating and breathing new life into the grade A-listed building.
She added: “This is not just a building project, Heritage Lottery funding will help us to reveal and share the Music Hall’s rich history down the ages and create an inspirational space for artists and audiences.”
The leader of Aberdeen City Council, Jenny Laing, also welcomed the news.
“The Music Hall is a wonderful cultural asset in Aberdeen so I am delighted to hear that its proposed redevelopment is set to receive financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund,” she said.
“We aspire to be a place of excellence for culture and the arts and we want people who live in Aberdeen or visit the city to be able to enjoy the iconic Music Hall and all it has to offer for generations to come.”
The Music Hall has been at the core of the entertainment scene in the north-east since it first opened its doors in 1822.
The grade A-listed venue was designed by Aberdeen’s most famous architect, Archibald Simpson, and cost £11,500 to build.
Currently, the Music Hall has one main auditorium, but it was built with another large ballroom where the public toilets are now located.
The original building also boasted a card room – which is now the cafe – and two upstairs billiard rooms, used as offices.
The venue hosted many sold out performances after it opened, including readings from Charles Dickens.
The rooms were sold in 1858 to the newly formed Aberdeen Music Hall Company, which quickly created plans to extend the building to include a Music Hall.
The premises were taken over by Aberdeen City Council in 1928 after the company went into liquidation.
It was then extensively restored and refurbished by the City of Aberdeen District Council in the mid 1980s.
The venue has not been significantly invested in since the early 80s. In the past three decades, it has hosted more than four million visitors and around 5000 staged events, all of which have taken their toll on the building.