Recovery Fund gives Opera North £500,000 to boost building plans

Former shop units will become a restaurant and bar

Writer:

Paul Genty

11 Dec 2020

New restaurant, rehearsal rooms and education centre in revitalised building

Opera North is to receive a Capital Kickstart award of £500,000 from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

The money will be used to support Music Works, the company’s £18m redevelopment project in Leeds to create the new Howard Opera Centre, a “world class” arts facility in the heart of the city.

The new centre will contain Opera North’s rehearsal studios, costume and wigs workshop, and administrative offices. The Company’s eclectic performance venue, the Howard Assembly Room, will reopen with a new fully-accessible entrance and atrium, and a new restaurant and bar will replace a row of previously vacant shops.

The company’s general director, Richard Mantle, said: “This will help us to mitigate some of the impacts of the Covid pandemic on the redevelopment.

“The first lockdown meant we had to halt work for six weeks and the construction company has still not been able to return to full capacity." 

The first phase is now due to be ready by the spring 2021, with completion expected in the summer.

The overall target for the Music Works fundraising campaign is £18 million. With the addition of the Kickstart award, Opera North has raised over £16 million to date, including a significant philanthropic gift of £11.25 million from Dr Keith Howard OBE, President of Opera North and founder of Emerald Group Publishing.