Bradford Odeon restoration scheme to get £4m funding boost

Plans to transform a dilapidated cinema into a 4,000-capacity music venue have been boosted with £4m of government funding.

Bradford Odeon.
Bradford Odeon.

A project to restore Bradford's vacant Odeon cinema has been awarded the cash from the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.

The restoration scheme will get a share of £15m which will also benefit cultural projects in the Lake District and Blackpool, Arts, Heritage and Tourism Minister Michael Ellis announced today.

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The twin-domed Odeon, which houses an auditorium and art deco ballroom, has been closed since 2000.

Last September, it was announced that management firm NEC Group would take a 30-year lease on the building and invest £2m towards conversion costs.

Now the project is close to securing all the funding needed to reopen the venue in 2020, some 90 years after it first opened.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “This is excellent news for the district. I want to thank the people of Bradford and especially those who campaigned tirelessly to save this vital part of Bradford’s heritage.

“This latest funding puts us within touching distance of getting all the finance in place. We are confident that we can secure the remaining amount and are already in discussions with potential funding sources."

It is hoped the Bradford venue will stage around 225 events for more than 270,000 people every year, creating 50 jobs in the city and boosting the economy by £10m a year. The restoration project is being led by social enterprise Bradford Live, with help from the council.

A bid for funding for the Odeon project was placed by Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership. Its chairman Roger Marsh said: "The fact that the Leeds City Region bid is one of just three to secure funding from this fund shows the strength of the case we put forward in partnership with Bradford Council and Bradford Live, and the power of the vision we share for Bradford and the wider area.”

Today's funding announcement will also see £3.29m invested in improvements to tourist facilities at Lake District attractions Windermere Jetty, Dove Cottage, the Wordsworth Museum and Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Museum.

A further £4m will be used to create a museum in Blackpool to celebrate the town’s history as the UK’s first mass seaside holiday resort.