Blackheath Halls is a Grade II listed restored Victorian concert venue with the largest open auditorium capacity in the South East, writes Chantal Laws.Time Out magazine recently described us as, ?a great place to see a wide range of big-name mainstream acts as well as more esoteric jazz and rootsy fare...?.We attract an audience of over 40,000 per annum whilst our outreach work involves another 10,000 people in music-making locally.
Since 1985 the Halls have been available as a venue for hire. But research conducted during the Arts Council of England?s Stabilisation Programme suggested that the opportunity to generate income from hires was historically under-utilised - our own programme accounts for only 25% of usage each year. A more consistent and professional approach in terms of charging, marketing and arranging hire events was strongly recommended.
For the financial year 1999-2000 income generated from hall hires approached the amount of grant funding received. Clearly, hiring Blackheath Halls to the public aids our financial stability and long-term prospects. But is this to the detriment of our artistic policy? Originally there had been a tendency to place financial considerations above all others - understandable when your venue is facing imminent closure - but this had helped to foster a view of Blackheath Halls as amateurish.Today this could not be further from the truth.
Blackheath Halls is now available for hire as a venue for concerts, club nights, weddings, parties, conferences, exhibitions, trade fairs, as an examination centre and as a film location.The operations department manages all aspects of hall hire in-house from initial enquiry to the event itself.
What most people who attend our concerts do not realise is that a large proportion of our hires are rehearsal and recording sessions with major classical artists, both from London, nationally and internationally, who appreciate the excellent acoustics.We are also in demand from the local authorities and other partner organisations and stakeholders. Having built strong business relationships with these organisations through good commercial service, we are then able to approach them for assistance with our community work.
Through the provision of hire facilities we have also broadened our access and attracted an audience that might not otherwise attend. Whatever the method, securing goodwill is priceless.
Chantal Laws is Operations Officer for Blackheath Halls.
t: 020 8318 9758,
f: 020 8852 5154,