The results of feasibility studies into a new performance venue to replace the old Assembly Rooms venue is to go to public consultation. After this is concluded, the work to procure an operator and start design work will get underway.

This was approved by Cabinet last evening as it agreed to spend £500,000 for this next stage of work.

Deputy leader of the Council, Cllr Martin Rawson, said that this venue was “fundamental” to the creation of a vibrant city centre. He said that the venue would not only boost the city’s cultural offering but it was also a catalyst for future invest.

He said:

The new Music and Performance Venue, if this option is progressed, will bring an exciting and diverse cultural offering to the city centre. Initial feasibility work projects that the programme of events will attract an estimated audience of 322,000 people annually, create 395 full time jobs and generate an estimated £9.6 million in benefits to our economy.

This option is not a foregone conclusion. There is no design in place and there is no programme of events in place as yet. We are in the formative stages. We are proceeding with caution as this is not on the capital programme and there is a funding gap.

Following the consultation the Council will start the process to procure an operator for the venue. It is extremely important that we have a business partner on board who can make inputs into the design for the option that is selected after public consultation. We will also be exploring sources of public and private sector funding.

A performance venue is fundamental to the economic health of the city. Once we put this in place, I strongly believe that it will trigger private sector investment in the city centre which will transform the day and night time economy of the city.

I can see this boosting retail, restaurants, hotel stays, cafes and ancillary services in the private sector.

Following 18 months of work and discussions with a vast range of cultural and business stakeholders, the Council’s strategic property partner, Cushman and Wakefield, arrived at a suite of options for consideration.

As part of the feasibility work, talks were held with Derby University, Derby Theatre, Derby LIVE, QUAD, Baby People, Viva Sinfonia, Déda, various experts in the Council (including planning, conservation and urban design), the Vibrant City Partnership and Derby Renaissance Board, among others.

Briefings were also held with the Theatres Trust, Derby Arena, Historic England, all political parties as well as the sitting Derbyshire MPs of the day.

Following market research, stakeholder engagement, and utilising specialist knowledge and experience of the stakeholders, three options were tested, based on different funding assumptions.

Consultants also examined an option to refurbish the Assembly Rooms while a fifth option was explored for a Lyric Theatre based on the conclusions of research previously commissioned by Derby LIVE that established a demand for this type of venue.

At the end of it all, the Music and Performance Venue emerged as potentially the most affordable and very diverse option. It is our ambition to have a venue with the capability to host music concerts, sports events, comedy, theatrical performances, conferences and exhibitions and be available for use by both amateur and professional groups.

Soft market testing was also done which confirmed a market demand for a Music and Performance Venue.

The recommendations and conclusions are now being returned, not only to the same groups that were consulted in the last 18 months, but also to wider interest groups and the public.

Public consultation is expected to start in the coming weeks and concluded by the end of the year.

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