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Project Brighton: Building a bright future for Brighton Dome: A one-of-a-kind renovation project is breathing new life into the nationally – important Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre

- March 26, 2018


Situated in the heart of the city’s Royal Pavilion Estate, Brighton Dome has had many guises over its 200-year history. Originally designed as the Prince Regent’s riding stables, it has also been a roller skating rink, the site of a thwarted Suffragette protest, and a World War One hospital. In 1867 the iconic venue was converted into a concert and assembly hall, soon becoming one of the most fashionable and culturally significant venues in the south. The opening was reported in The Illustrated London News with the words:

“The visitors to Brighton… will be surprised and gratified to find how successfully this place, formerly a neglected adjunct of the Pavilion stables, has been converted into one of the most agreeable halls for a promenade concert or exhibition in any town in the kingdom… The fantastical and whimsical taste of George IV does not appear so unsuitable to a place of this description, which will be devoted to miscellaneous uses of display, festivity & entertainment.”


Since then a dazzling array of artists have graced the stages – from early jazz pioneers, the Southern Syncopated Orchestra, and world-famous singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson, to David Bowie and the Rolling Stones. Pink Floyd, whose first appearance was supporting the late great Jimi Hendrix, debuted their classic Dark Side Of The Moon album live at Brighton Dome in January 1972, while in 1974 the venue hosted ABBA’s famous victory in the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo.
Now two of its venues, the Grade I listed Corn Exchange (formerly the Riding house) and the Studio Theatre (once a supper room), are being remodelled to restore, revive and interconnect its spaces and transform it into a space fit for generations to come.

Due to be completed in 2019, the improvement works will reveal long-lost heritage features

Due to be completed in 2019, the improvement works will reveal long-lost heritage features, create new spaces for artists to explore their creativity, provide new provisions for all such as a visitor welcome area and a public viewing gallery overlooking the Corn Exchange, state-of-the-art facilities to improve experiences at shows and allow more extraordinary arts events to be showcased, and a street-facing café to add to the buzz of Brighton and help build a future economic resilience. There will also be new and improved conference spaces.

A collaboration between Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, the Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, and Brighton & Hove City Council, these transformational works are the first phase in an ambitious vision to restore and reunite the buildings and landscape of the historic Estate and improve the centrepiece of the city’s cultural quarter. Alongside improved wayfinding and heritage displays across the Estate, and, with two subsequent phases encompassing improvements to the Royal Pavilion Garden and the creation of new learning spaces, the project will deepen and broaden the cultural tourism offer of Brighton & Hove and significantly contribute to the city’s cultural and economic wellbeing.

With the majority of phase one funding now in place, including major contributions from National Lottery players via Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, Coast to Capital Local Growth fund, local council support and commitments from a number of charitable trusts and individual donors, a new community appeal has just been launched to raise some of the remaining funds to complete the project and help enrich more lives for another 200 years.

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