Who is Bradford Live?
Bradford Live is a not-for-profit charitable company formed in 2012 to find a long term viable use for the historic former Odeon building in Bradford city centre which has been derelict since 2000. At the end of 2014, following a rigorous competition, the Council awarded Bradford Live the right to re-develop the building.
Bradford Live is run entirely by committed volunteers and has already invested £250,000 of its own funds to harness extremely experienced professional partners. Our brief is to bring the former Odeon back into long term viable use without the need for revenue subsidy from the public sector.
Our aim is to support the city’s rebirth and we believe that the Odeon is key to that end. The plan is to re-instate the original huge auditorium, making it the third largest auditorium in Yorkshire, with a capacity of 3500 seated/ 4000 with stalls standing. A venue of this size will attract national and international performers and its flexibility will also allow sporting events, corporate product launches exhibitions and conferences.
The Impact for Bradford –
Bradford, England’s 5th largest city by population, has a rich history and diverse community but some parts suffer some of the worst levels of social and economic deprivation in the UK. For example:
• unemployment in certain wards exceeds 25% • unemployment in the Odeon’s City Ward is 21.9% compared with 7.6% for England and Wales (2011) • the District unemployment rate of 10.3% is well above the national average • the City’s Local authority is the 26th ‘most deprived’ in England, and the 2nd ‘most deprived’ in the Yorkshire & Humber region
Despite these problems, Bradford retains many of the great buildings of its heyday, and of these, given its prominent location, the Bradford Odeon, opened in 1930, is probably the most important. Bradford Live will transform this building into a professionally-run, mid-size live music/performance and exhibition venue. The new venue will be a ‘game changer’ for the City and wider District.
Specifically, it will:
• regenerate a key city centre building that overlooks, and forms the backdrop to, the City’s flagship £26m City Park development.
• create 86 new jobs directly, and many more indirectly by stimulating wider regeneration.
• bring an estimated extra 400,000 visitors per year into the city centre, with a total additional spend of around £16.5m per annum.
• put Bradford back on the national live music touring map, and encourage grass roots development of music.
• build links with local education providers to ensure that young people are educated and trained to meet the needs of the growing live music and event industry.
• equip the City with an historic and flexible city centre venue to host live music and events, dinners, conferencing and exhibitions.
The capital cost of transforming the Odeon building means that there is no prospect of any purely private developer making a commercial return from the project; Bradford Live has always stated that to succeed, a joint effort between the private and public sectors is needed. We still believe this. We are currently talking with potential commercial partners and have built a comprehensive funding and business model which the Council has accepted as a workable and viable solution. With the Council’s help and support, we are working to secure the necessary public grant funding needed to meet the transformation costs. Once open, the building has to ‘earn its keep’ and be financially self-sustaining.
Bradford Live is not seeking any commercial gain from this project. Indeed, we are in the process of establishing a registered charity – Bradford Live Trust – that we hope will play a central role in the Odeon transformation, as well as supporting and encouraging live music and entertainment more widely in Bradford. A board of trustees from a wide spectrum of the Bradford community has been appointed. We have also sponsored several key Bradford events, such as the Inspirational Women’s Awards 2014, the Joshua Project young people’s award, Boar Fest 2015 and Bradford Beck.