City of London adds £2m seed funding for new concert hall

City of London adds £2m seed funding for new concert hall


norman lebrecht

March 10, 2020

Hopes for a new London concert hall have been given a small boost with a £1.95 million grant from the City of London Corporation toward planning a Centre for Music in the City.

The hall itself, a replacement for the Barbican black hole, would cost half a billion pounds, on reasnable current estimates.

No sign where that’s coming from.



  • Mike Schachter says:

    I think is a bit of fun on the Corporation’s part. They have been stung once with the cost of the Barbican. In addition, the economics did do look good a few weeks ago, and are now dreadful.

  • A lot of time lost for an essential project. London has lost 15 years if we compare with the situations in Paris and Rome

  • Gustavo says:

    In viral Brexit-times, one could down-scale the hall to seat exactly 999 UK citizens only.

  • SVM says:

    Money down the drain. Far better to spend it on making existing concert halls affordable to hire or on scholarships for students at GSMD. There is no point having a shiny new concert hall that almost nobody can afford to hire and with such a large capacity as to guarantee lots of empty seats for almost every event that does take place there.

    • Tommy says:

      Most of the London halls are perfectly affordable to hire – and successfully so. I suppose it depends on what you mean by ‘affordable’ and to whom.
      And do you know how much the new hall will cost to hire? If you do, you’re very talented – since the hall hasn’t even been built yet and no hire cost considered.
      Also, since the capacity is going to be around the same as the Barbican (2000 ish), that’s not ‘such a large capacity’ and therefore doesn’t ‘guarantee lots of empty seats for almost every event.’

      Have you actually read the hall proposal?

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Having 2000 seats is pretty much the minimum requirement for a concert hall if tickets sales are going to be the main way to fund orchestras.

      • SVM says:

        Re: “I suppose it depends on what you mean by ‘affordable’ and to whom.”

        I mean ‘affordable’ in the sense of “feasible for a professional classical-music ensemble without any superstar players to hire the venue for an artistically adventurous programme”. [declaration of interest: I play in such an ensemble myself]

        Re: “And do you know how much the new hall will cost to hire?”

        Of course not. But, one can assume that it would be more expensive than Milton Court (because the new hall would be much larger) and the existing Barbican Hall (because the new hall would have better acoustics… right?). Neither of those venues is ‘affordable’.

        Re: “(2000 ish), that’s not ‘such a large capacity’ ”

        Very few classical concerts at the existing Barbican Hall come close to selling 100% of seats. Even at the notable smaller halls, such as the prestigious Wigmore Hall (capacity under 600), only a minority of concerts sell 100% of seats. For many concerts, the empty seats are disguised by closing seating areas farther from the stage — at the Barbican Hall, the Circle and/or Balcony (i.e.: the whole audience is placed in the Stalls, thus increasing the occupancy rate of that seating area over what it would have been had the Circle and Balcony been open).

  • Dave says:

    City of London – £2m. Peanuts. Maybe they’re waiting for the next government bail-out for the bankers?

  • Max Raimi says:

    The musicians in the great London orchestras are paid near poverty-level wages, averaging less than $40,000 a year in U.S. dollars. Until that is addressed, investing in bricks and mortar (and, no doubt, nameplates with the names of billionaire donors) strikes me as obscene.