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Blackheath Halls celebrates remarkable venue transformation

Thu 25 April 2024

Sir Bryn Terfel, the Blackheath Halls Youth Choir and TL Jazz students performed for HRH The Duke of Kent to celebrate the completion of Blackheath Halls’s remarkable renovation.

The enthusiasm and dedication to the arts in the community of Blackheath has meant that this year, Blackheath Halls has completed a project to redevelop and modernise the interior and exterior spaces of its beautiful Grade II listed building.

This work has transformed the venue into a more versatile, accessible and welcoming performance space to serve and inspire the local community who have helped fund the project. In 2018, it had the stage levelled, retractable raked seating bank installed, acoustics improved, and overall décor modernised whilst retaining the original barrel- vaulted ceiling. The Bar, Box Office and communal areas were also modernised, creating light and airy spaces.

During summer 2023, the exterior was transformed with new paving, stone benches and planting, providing an inviting spacious and open area for the local community as well as audiences visiting the venue. The outdated signage was replaced with a backlit pillar and digital totem display.

To improve accessibility, a lift to the more intimate The Hearn Recital Room was fitted, the entry ramp to the building resurfaced, and a bespoke stage lift installed for performers, community participants and students with access requirements. With the arts being one of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic and one still struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, this project is a real triumph of community commitment and passion.

As part of the oldest surviving purpose-built cultural complex in London, Blackheath Halls has a rich history dating back to its construction in 1895, funded by public subscription. Saved from demolition in the 1980s by the local community, this iconic venue has evolved into a vibrant hub for arts and culture. Since becoming part of Trinity College of Music’s estate in 2004, Blackheath Halls has flourished, hosting around a thousand events annually and attracting over 50,000 visitors. From classical music to folk, comedy, talks, literary events, and children’s theatre, the diverse program caters to all tastes. At the heart of their mission is community engagement, exemplified by initiatives like the annual Blackheath Halls Opera, Musical Theatre courses, choirs, and youth programs nurturing young talent from our local boroughs. Their esteemed reputation has also drawn renowned groups like the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and English National Opera, as well as the London International Festival of Early Music, all seeking the unparalleled acoustics of their spaces. Partnerships with parent company Trinity Laban and Greenwich and Lewisham Music Hubs further enrich their offerings, making Blackheath Halls a vital center for artistic collaboration and education.

The transformation has only been made possible by donations from the Friends and Patrons of the venue (the majority of whom are local residents) as well as a major donation from arts charity The Hearn Foundation, Arts Council England, Viridor Credits and others. To celebrate the completion of the project, HRH The Duke of Kent attended a special event on Wednesday 17 April attended by all those who donated to the project as well as local businesses, who enjoyed performances from Sir Bryn Terfel, the Blackheath Halls Youth Choir and jazz students from parent Trinity Laban.