Opera North reveals new Art Council funds for its major New Briggate plans in Leeds

An architect's vision of the future Opera North base in Leeds. Credit: Enjoy Design.
An architect's vision of the future Opera North base in Leeds. Credit: Enjoy Design.

The ambitious redevelopment of one of Yorkshire’s cultural gems will be helped along by a major new funding source, it has been announced.

Opera North today confirmed that Arts Council England has awarded £499,999 towards its Music Works programme in Leeds.

The company previously announced that its project will include a new education centre, building improvements and a new entrance and atrium space for the Howard Assembly Room, which is currently accessed via Leeds Grand Theatre.
Empty shop units in New Briggate directly below the venue are also planned to become a restaurant and bar through the £15m scheme.

The Arts Council England funding will go towards the new facilities, make energy-efficiency works possible and develop digital technologies.

Richard Mantle, general director of Opera North, said the new funding was “a significant vote of confidence in our plans” for the Leeds base.

“Music Works is about creating a building to make and experience music, but it’s also about creating thrilling, powerful performances and the opportunities for participation that will bring the new spaces to life for many years to come,” he said.

Sarah Maxfield, area director north of Arts Council England, said that its grants help organisations reach “new and broader audiences, to ensure that everyone is able to access arts and culture”.

Leeds-based Opera North is now looking for major donors as £4.8m is still needed for the scheme, which is planned between 2019 and 2020.

Dr Keith Howard OBE, president of Opera North and founder of Emerald Publishing, has already contributed £11.5m.

Leeds City Council has also put £750,000 towards the scheme, with £13.2m raised all together - 70 per cent of the target. It comes after the city vowed to carry on with a year of arts events in 2023 in the wake of UK cities being banned from having future European Capital of Culture titles.