Matlock Bath Grand Pavilion charity aims to emerge stronger after challenging year for historic venue

Community venues all over the Derbyshire Dales are looking forward to reopening the doors this spring, but for the volunteers who run Matlock Bath’s Grand Pavilion it will come as a huge relief and a moment to begin a new chapter in its history.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 5:28 pm

The months in lockdown have presented physical and financial challenges to the charity which is overseeing the gradual restoration of the Edwardian concert hall.

Victoria Arran, who handles events and marketing, said: “It’s an old building which doesn’t like to be left empty and it’s thrown up all sorts of new challenges.

“With no one using it, rooms have developed mould and damp, and we had a long-term leak in the women’s toilets suddenly flood the Peak District Mining Museum on the floor below.”

Lots is happening behind the scenes at the Grand Pavilion.

With any chance to generate regular income also limited in lockdown, the charity was rescued by a £50,000 grant from the Arts Council’s Culture Recovery Fund in the autumn.

Victoria said: “Without that, we wouldn’t have been able to reopen. The toilets and floor had to be ripped out and then we discovered asbestos.

“We’ve since discovered a massive damp problem in the main hall floor, which is covered in MDF. We’ve applied for a £30,000 grant which would allow us to pull that up, reveal the original flooring underneath, and invest in new furniture.”

The pandemic has presented opportunities too however, and a new wave of volunteers with more time to give close to home.

Victoria said: “In terms of planning, it’s actually been a fantastic year. We’re in a better place than ever. We’ve been getting quotes for work like removing the pink render to show the original façade, and the biggest jobs in the main hall.

“Again, this means thousands and thousands of pounds, so we’ve been preparing another major funding application and looking at new potential sources.”

She added: “One of our newest volunteers has been a big help with that. Others have been taking on maintenance jobs while on furlough.

“Everyone who has come forward has some link to the Pavilion’s past. There is a lot of love for it. The charity doesn’t see it as our building. It belongs to the community.”

Recent renovations have focused on the conference room and the backstage changing rooms.

The charity is working towards reopening the café next month, at least for takeaway services, as well as the meeting rooms for hire.

Visitors to the café will find new wall displays detailing the building’s history and the plans for its future.

Top of the agenda is a community music project to start in 2022, offering creative workshops, diverse performances and youth education.

Victoria said: “Elton John and Queen played here before they were famous and we want to rebuild the venue’s reputation for live music and offer things you don’t normally find out in the countryside.”

The charity is keen to hear from musicians, technicians and facilitators who could be part of the project and will launch an online survey this month so residents can help shape the project.

Interested volunteers should write to [email protected] or check for more details.

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