Live music, theatre and arts venue, The Met in Bury, is to undergo a £4.6 million refurbishment starting this March 2016 to meet growing audience demand, thanks to a £3.1 million capital investment from Arts Council England and supporting contributions from Bury Council and other benefactors.
The Met is one of the North’s most successful entertainment venues and the investment will enable it to increase its capacity and attract even more national talent to perform in the town.
The Met is currently ranked number 39 in the PRS Top 100 Venues in the UK and regularly attracts audiences of more than 45,000, some of which will have first seen Steve Coogan, Eddie Izzard, Johnny Vegas, Caroline Aherne and Lee Evans before they became big names; along with a legendary performance from Joy Division and of course Elbow.
It is also one of Bury’s much-loved heritage buildings and in need of renovation. Bury Metropolitan Arts Association (BMAA), the charity that runs the Met, has spent the last four years successfully applying for and raising money towards securing funds for this redevelopment project.
The capital investment will restore the building’s heritage features and transform the interior to increase capacity and improve facilities for everyone who uses the venue.It will also enable The Met to attract more high profile artists and theatre productions, thanks to new and improved studio and theatre spaces, a new bar area, workshop spaces, new dressing rooms and a new more accessible lift in the centre of the building.
Arts Council England has provided the greatest contribution, investing £3.1 million in the capital development programme. Financial support has also come from Bury Council, Garfield Weston Foundation, Oglesby Foundation, Monument Trust, Granada Foundation, Manchester Guardian as well as public donations and individual giving.
David Agnew, artistic director of The Met, has led the capital project since 2011. He said: "The building is in dire need of investment but this project is about more than just the building. In the last 5 years we have grown to offer a programme of festivals, and Edwin Street Recording Studio, alongside regular international touring artists and weekly workshops. Our partners and audiences are supporting the work we have been carrying out in Bury and plan to continue with into the future.
“Bury’s arts and culture is a huge part of its success and we are delighted to have this investment to continue with a programme that is both relevant to local communities and brings artists and audiences into Bury. "
Alison Clark, Director North, Arts Council England, said: “We very pleased to invest in Bury Met’s exciting renovation plans which will enable it to attract more high profile artists and productions to the town benefitting both local and visiting audiences.”
Councillor Paddy Heneghan, Bury Council’s cabinet member for children, families and culture, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the Arts Council has chosen to make such a significant investment in Bury’s major arts venue. The council is also pleased to be able to add its own financial support to this excellent scheme. I have no doubt that a more customer friendly arts centre will undoubtedly increase the cultural offer of the Borough, enhancing its reputation and improving even more the attractiveness of Bury town centre as a visitor destination.
“The proposed refurbishment will also significantly improve one of Bury’s most important historical buildings, making it more sustainable for the future”
The Met welcomes over 45,000 people a year to Bury through its events, recording studio and festivals programme including Ramsbottom Festival and Homegrown festivals. Work will commence onsite from March 2016 and the project is expected to be completed by November of 2016. To see more about the plans for the building go to http://themet.biz/better.
The venue will be closed from mid March 2016, and the venue’s restaurant and bar, Automatic Café will remain open during this period, closing for two weeks in June as part of the redevelopment. A site-specific programme of live music and events will continue throughout the building’s renovation.See http://themet.biz/ for more details.
The Fundraising Continues…
To donate to the building scheme through the purchase of a seat in the theatre go to http://themet.biz/better/have-a-seat/. Or donate to the £5 campaign (Donate by text: To send £5 right now text BMAA01 £5 to 70070.)
About The Met
1975: Bury Metropolitan Arts Association (BMAA), the charity that runs The Met, formed.It has since expanded from a single venue to a multi art form venue, recording studio, community workshop programme and three specialist festivals with turnover increasing from 250K to almost 1milion in 10 years.
2011: The Met opened the Edwin Street Recording Studio and staged the first Ramsbottom Festival. Edwin Street Recording Studio is a professional recording facility that features state of the art recording equipment. It supports young musicians through free studio time and mentoring, giving them the means to promote themselves and develop their career through appearances at local events and festivals. edwinstreetstudio.com
Ramsbottom Festival www.ramsbottomfestival.com is an award-winning music festival which takes place at the Ramsbottom Cricket Club. Under the artistic direction of David Agnew, the festival has attracted The Proclaimers, Idlewild, Sinead O’Connor, Roddy Frame and Richard Hawley to Ramsbottom and an audience of more than 11,000 in five years. It features four live music stages, activities and workshops and an enviable children’s programme which also tours to Just So Festival and Kendal Calling as part of Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Project.www.ramsbottomfestival.com
2012: The Homegrown Folk Festival launched to celebrate and cultivate the increasing popularity of English folk music. Homegrown is a 3 day event across Bury and part of Folk English Expo - an international showcase event attracting 60 festivals and venues from around the world.
2007:Big Whistle Festival launched,a unique festival celebrating the use of whistle, flutes and pipes in Celtic music attracting visitors from throughout the UK.