Did Britain cheat Europe to build its best concert hall?

That’s the thesis of Terry Grimley’s new book about the building of Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

The European Commission had told the city that its Regional Development Fund could not be used to build a concert hall. So they called it a convention centre. And Europe turned a blind eye. Details here.

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  • So in short there is only one very good concert hall in Britain, and it was built with money from the EU. Oh Britannia…

  • Symphony Hall is part of a larger convention centre and is regularly used for conventions as well as concerts (including major party conferences). So there was hardly any real bluff involved, especially as the new concert hall was being publicly discussed (eg in Nicholas Kenyon’s Rattle biography) as such as early as 1988 (it didn’t open until 1991).

    I think last week was a bit of a quiet news week on the Birmingham Post – though to be fair, Terry’s a good egg and his book deserves to sell well.

  • It seems to me that there is only one obvious, alarming and disturbing question raised by this article: why the Regional Development Fund could not be used to build a concert hall?

  • To me the more obvious, alarming and disturbing question raised by this is: why is Britain not willing to spend its own money for a concert hall? There seems to be a systemic problem, also looking at the whole country including London. No wonder Simon Rattle prefers to stay in Berlin even after his job ends there…

    • “why is Britain not willing to spend its own money for a concert hall?”

      The attitude that undermined plans for the Cardiff Bay Opera House is probably a factor.

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