Wednesday 30 May 2007

Concert hall in line for a €150m revamp

THE €150m redevelopment of the National Concert Hall is due to begin next year.

The huge project - which will be undertaken in three phases - has now been put out to tender on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis.

The historic site on Earlsfort Terrace near St Stephen's Green in Dublin will be redeveloped to include three separate but interlinked auditoriums.

The plans include:

* A new concert hall with capacity for 2,000 people.

* The existing auditorium to be preserved for use as rehearsal and mid-performance space.

* A smaller hall with capacity for 400 people for smaller concerts.

* Earlsfort Terrace buildings to be reunited with the Iveagh Gardens, incorporating new public rooms, cafes and restaurants.

The National Concert Hall building is Ireland's premier venue for classical music events, hosting over 500 music-based events a year to well over 300,000 people. However, the hall currently has to turn away 40pc of enquiries to its box office because of space limitations.

"In developing the Earlsfort Terrace site, it is intended that the new main auditorium will become a major addition to the world's stock of concert halls, with acoustic qualities recognised as first class," said a tender for the works.

"The aspiration is to join that select group of perhaps not more than a dozen halls which musicians, acoustic experts and discriminating patrons know to be the best. The importance of acoustic excellence, outstanding at international level, is paramount."

The Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism is now seeking to employ a team of technical consultants for the huge project.

However, it will still be some years before construction work begins on the 26-year-old hall as the consultants will only begin their work late next summer.


Recently Minister John O'Donoghue gave the NCH €1m to meet its immediate financial needs, including the extension of the Terrace Cafe and the purchase of IT equipment.

The €1m fund will also be used for a sales and marketing system and to provide other upgrades in equipment and dressing facilities.

Meanwhile, it is believed that the massive refurbishment of the concert hall will cost over €150m in addition to site costs.

It is hoped that the ambitious redevelopment will enable Dublin to compete for cultural tourism against major European cities.

Edel Kennedy
Irish Independent

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