City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet has approved plans to look at the option of appointing an external operator to run Wolverhampton Civic Halls when it reopens as a world class entertainment venue in autumn 2021.

A report at Wednesday’s (16 October) meeting recommended it as the best way to maximise revenue and attract bigger acts and audiences following the halls’ £38.1 million transformation.

Market testing by independent entertainment industry specialists has identified an unprecedented level of demand from national market-leading venue operators to run the Civic Halls.

Many of them are involved in successfully running local authority owned venues elsewhere in the country, such as Leeds, Hull and Swansea.

Councillor Harman Banger, Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “It is important we look at all the options in terms of how the transformed Civic Halls are operated when they reopen in autumn 2021.

“The works will make the halls a world class venue, enabling them to attract significantly more popular and prestigious entertainment acts, while retaining the current characteristics that make them popular with performers, producers and audiences.

“The halls are an important part of our visitor economy and the re-opening and the successful operation of them will reap big rewards in terms of jobs and economic benefit for the city.” 

The operator options will now be further assessed in parallel to the ongoing refurbishment and improvement works.

Preferred contractor, Willmott Dixon Interiors, is to carry out essential structural, engineering and electrical works, and visitors are set to benefit from the introduction of a second balcony for the Civic Hall and a balcony in the Wulfrun Hall to provide additional seating.

The height above the stage to the rear of the Civic Hall will be increased to attract bigger and better shows.

Overall, there will be new and more comfortable seats, bigger and better bars and more space to socialise, additional and revamped toilet facilities to give visitors an improved experience, lift access to new balconies, better access arrangements for disabled visitors (including enhanced wheelchair access), a greater number of accessible viewing points, and improved room temperatures through the installation of a new air conditioning system.

When works are completed, the combined capacity for both venues will be more than 4,500 people when set up for standing or around 3,000 people when set up for seating.