Bradford Odeon selected as Leeds City Region�s bid for share of �15m Northern culture pot

The transformation of Bradford’s former Odeon cinema received a further boost yesterday when it was selected by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board as the City Region’s submission to the Government’s £15 million Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.

If the bid for up to £4 million funding is successful, it would provide a crucial element in securing the future of this iconic building, creating a new 4,000-capacity live event venue for the city and wider region.

Once completed, the venue is expected to host over 200 events a year, attracting 270,000 people to Bradford city centre annually and boosting the local economy by around £10 million.

The £15 million Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund was announced by the Government over the summer. Part of efforts to ensure that the Great Exhibition of the North, which will take place in Newcastle-Gateshead in July 2018, has benefits across the North of England, each of the 11 local enterprise partnerships across the North has been invited to bid for funding.

It expected that three or four projects will benefit from funding of up to £4 million each.

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership said: “The strength of applications we received from across the region is testament to the fantastic, diverse range of cultural attractions that Leeds City Region offers. As we look ahead to the legacy of Hull’s hugely successful year as UK Capital of Culture, it’s vital that our region plays a leading role in ensuring the North’s vibrant cultural sector continues to attract visitors from around the world.

“The regeneration of Bradford Odeon will bring a much-loved building back into public use, as well as play an important role in Bradford city centre’s on-going economic transformation. The Board and I were really excited by the ambitious proposals put forward and impressed by the strong support shown by the local community. We look forward to submitting a strong bid to Government and to bringing a substantial slice of this much-needed funding to Bradford.”

Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council executive member for regeneration, planning and transport, said: “I am obviously delighted that Bradford Odeon has been picked as the LEP’s submission to the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund. Following on from the creation of City Park and the opening of The Broadway Shopping Centre, there’s a renewed confidence in our city and the Odeon is the latest sign of that.

"Securing the funding for this fabulous city centre building to be brought back into use after almost 20 years would encourage people outside the region to see what we in Bradford already know – that our city is an exciting place to visit, with a strong cultural heritage of which we are extremely proud.

“Having been one of the four cities shortlisted to host the Great Exhibition of the North, it would be fantastic if some of the economic boost from this important showcase event could be felt in Bradford. I’m confident that we will put forward a really strong bid that will provide clear economic and social benefits, which is surely what this funding is all about.”

Lee Craven, speaking on behalf of Bradford Live who are leading the drive to transform the Bradford Odeon, said: “We are delighted at the news. Much hard work lies behind the Bradford Odeon bid and to reach this important milestone is a vindication of all that effort. Funding offered by the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund is crucial to ensure that this wonderful Bradford landmark can be given a viable long term future. A reborn Odeon would be a glorious legacy of the Great Exhibition of the North.”

Bradford Odeon was selected as the LEP’s Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund submission following a competitive open call for projects earlier in the autumn. Eight proposals were received on behalf of cultural projects across the City Region and two were put forward to the LEP Board for consideration following a thorough appraisal process.

The other strong contender was the Backstage Academy at Production Park in South Kirkby, Wakefield. Already an internationally recognised centre for the design and development of touring productions, where acclaimed acts such as Muse, Katy Perry and Coldplay have all rehearsed, the Backstage Academy plans to develop into a university providing undergraduate and Masters level education the live events industry.

Although Bradford Odeon was considered to have a stronger fit with the criteria for the Northern Cultural Regeneration, the LEP Board was impressed by the potential of Backstage Academy, and the wider Production Park development, to bring private sector investment and jobs to some of the most disadvantaged communities in Leeds City Region. The Board also discussed the opportunities to develop Production Park as a European centre of excellence for the live events industry, and have agreed to explore other opportunities to secure the funding needed to achieve this.

The LEP Board will submit its application to the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund on Thursday 30 November. A decision is expected by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in March 2018.