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£2m facelift bid for The Met
10:50am Tuesday 21st August 2012 in News
THE curtain could rise on a new era for Bury’s premier entertainments venue as bosses bid for a £1.5 million grant to refurbish the distinctive Victorian building.
The Met chiefs will submit the bid to Arts Council England next month. The successful applicants will be announced at the end of the year.
If given the go-ahead, the venue will need to raise an extra £500,000 to fund the overall £2 million cost of the project.
The plans include a new balcony, which would provide an extra 50 seats to boost capacity to 270.
Bosses say the remodelling of the Market Street building is needed to accommodate increasing audiences and demand for its facilities.
David Agnew, Met director, said: “We hope that members of the public will be as enthusiastic as Met staff about the refurbishment, which will make the building much more accessible for the community and really make The Met a venue of which Bury can be proud.”
The Met has appointed Manchester-based jmarchitects (JMA) to lead a design team that will spearhead the refurbishment.
As part of the application process, the firm is redesigning the building internally to increase capacity in the main theatre, as well as add workshop space, toilets and a larger upstairs bar.
The venue, which was voted number 39 in the Performing Rights Society’s Top 100 UK Venues this year, has seen increasing demand on its services, and part of the remodelling involves the refurbishment of the interior which is showing signs of wear.
As well as running large events such as the Ramsbottom Festival, The Met has gained a reputation as the region’s “home” of traditional folk music.
Marketing manager Victoria Robinson said that, if the bid is successful, the remodelling would start next summer, with the re-launch in 2014.
The building has been at the hub of Bury’s entertainments scene since 1979 and The Met is operated by the Bury Metropolitan Arts Association.
Ms Robinson said: “Obviously, we do put on a large range of events and we try to reflect public demand and to nurture young talent.
“The Met focuses on bringing the very best emerging and established talent to Bury and, as a result, our audiences have increased year after year. We are very well supported by the community.”
Cllr Mike Connolly, leader of Bury Council, which helps funds The Met, said: “It’s a thriving arts venue and we are proud to have them in Bury and to work in partnership.
“They are very inclusive and do a lot of diverse stuff. The Met is a very successful venue and we wish them well in their bid.”