Legendary Manchester venue Band On The Wall will reopen on 3rd March following a £3.5million expansion project spanning almost two years.
The development sees the Victorian-era Cocozza Wood building, located behind Band On The Wall, brought into the complex. Overall main room capacity has been increased to 500, the first floor is now dedicated to "innovative learning programme" World of Music, and a small second stage has been introduced to the improved bar area.
Funding and support has come from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, Foyle Foundation, Oglesby Foundation, DCMS, Charities Aid Foundation, Carlsberg, Ticketline, Lloyds Bank, and Manchester City Council.
Designed by Manchester architectural firm OMI, the new blueprint places a focus on step-free access, with the venue previously awarded by the organisation Attitude Is Everything for leading on accessibility. Doors closed in 2020 for work to begin.
“Band on the Wall has always been bigger than just a venue, and over the last two years we’ve been very busy working on our expansion project – including an increased main venue capacity, new café bar, a second smaller performance space, and significantly enhanced and expanded learning facilities to support our exciting and brand-new learning programme, World of Music," said Gavin Sharp, CEO of Band On The Wall.
"Band on the Wall is an iconic music venue with global recognition. It has been a wonderful journey seeing the venue modified and modernised, whilst keeping its historic charm, and we have been pleased to support this redevelopment with National Lottery funding through our capital programme," said Jennifer Cleary, Director, Combined Arts & North, Arts Council England. "We look forward to seeing the new possibilities that the re-opening of the venue will continue to bring.”
A registered charity since 1984, the address dates back much further, with a license first granted to sell alcohol on site in 1803. By the 1930s the building had garnered a reputation for live music, winning the nickname 'band on the wall' in reference to the high stage running along the wall of the pub.
During the 1970s, prominent Manchester punk bands such as Buzzcocks and The Fall were among the guest acts. The space subsequently became known for a broad programme of gigs, with a leaning towards global music.
English multi-instrumentalist, producer, and DJ Emma-Jean Thackray will play the first date at the new Band On the Wall, with stadium-filling blind Malian duo Amadou & Mariam, London-based afro-dance experts Ibibio Sound Machine, and electronic outfit Asian Dub Foundation among the names confirmed for the first month.