Call for a new concert hall on the Waterfront

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And the orchestra added that its existence could be at risk without a new venue to replace Fort Regent’s Gloucester Hall.

Responding to the Jersey Development Company’s public consultation on the redesign of the Waterfront, the orchestra has called for a high-quality venue for the arts and other public events as uncertainty over the Fort’s future grows.

JSO president Nick Cabot, who took over the role earlier this year, said that they had previously been informed that the Gloucester Hall would close at the end of 2022 but that recent comments cast doubt on whether it would be available again for them. ‘We are going to be totally up against it until we get a new concert venue,’ he said.

In its submission, the JSO says its ‘very existence is now seriously threatened by the loss of a suitable venue’, and it calls for ‘a multi-functional concert hall to cater for symphony orchestras, choirs, bands, comedians and every type of theatrical production with a seating capacity of between 1,500 and 2,500’.

It points out that the next-largest regular venue is the Jersey Opera House, which seats 620.

The orchestra says that other arts facilities – including a gallery – could sit alongside the concert hall, enriching the Island’s economy and providing opportunities for Islanders to participate in the arts and enjoy high-quality performances and exhibitions.

‘An exciting high-quality St Helier Waterfront development will attract the very best performers and artists to the Island including international festivals in music and art exhibitions. Arts in the UK is a major earner with a revenue in excess of agriculture or mining.

‘The Waterfront developments in Belfast and Cardiff have wholly transformed the economies of those cities,’ the submission says.

Mr Cabot said that without a new venue, he was very concerned about the future of the orchestra in its existing form.

Last year, health and safety concerns shut the Gloucester Hall, forcing the JSO to move its spring concert at short notice to the gymnasium at St Michael’s School where it gave a performance in front of a restricted audience, an approach which it says is not viable in the long-term.

‘We have been to every possible venue in the Island and looked at this in some detail.

‘At most, we could put an expanded chamber orchestra into a school hall like Le Rocquier or Victoria College but a symphony orchestra would require a venue like the RJAHS where the cost is considerable and offers the possibility of only about a third of the number of seats as Fort Regent,’ Mr Cabot said.

The orchestra appears to have some support from other organisations in the community.

A group comprising representatives of six other local theatre and musical groups including the Jersey Green Room Club, Jersey Amateur Dramatic Club and Jersey Eisteddfod has made a similar submission to the JDC, calling for new arts facilities to be included in Jersey’s revamped Waterfront.

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