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Barnsley Civic announces date for grand reopening of Eldon Street Entrance

After a transformative period of renewal and development, Barnsley Civic is excited to announce the reopening of its iconic Eldon Street entrance on Saturday, 14 September. This event marks a significant milestone in the ongoing story of a building steeped in heritage, culture, and community.

Originally built in 1877 as the Barnsley Mechanics Institute and Public Hall by Henry Harvey, and later known as the Harvey Institute, this landmark building has been at the core of Barnsley’s cultural and social development for over a century. After closing its doors in 1998, Barnsley Civic was reborn in 2009, but the front doors on Eldon Street remained closed, with the entranceway, elaborate mosaics, and original ceiling hidden from public view. The upcoming reopening promises to reignite its historic role as a hub for culture, creativity, and engaging all of its communities in vibrant and exciting activities.

The long-awaited £3.5m project to regenerate Barnsley Civic, funded by Barnsley Council, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) Levelling Up funding and others, including £1.6m funding from Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone, (HSHAZ) began last year.

The project includes updates to the original entrance on Eldon Street, a new bar, flexible office space and creative community spaces for events and workshops which are available for hire. Enhanced toilet and lift facilities have also been added, while the existing theatre space and gallery from the 2009 development remains.

Anthony Baker, CEO and Artistic Director of Barnsley Civic has led the redevelopment alongside the team said: “We are so excited to swing open the doors of Eldon Street once more, inviting people to rediscover and engage with one of Barnsley’s most magnificent buildings. This is more than a reopening; it’s a celebration of our collective past, present, and future, underpinned by our commitment to delivering the culture and creativity that the people of Barnsley want and need.

“We extend our sincere thanks to Barnsley Council, Historic England, SYMCA, and Levelling Up funding, along with Arts Council England, for their invaluable support and collaboration in making this vision a reality, as well as to everyone else who has supported us along the way.”

Matt O’Neill, Executive Director of Growth and Sustainability at Barnsley Council said: “Celebrating the reopening of Barnsley Civic’s Eldon Street entrance is a significant moment for our town. The redevelopment complements the ongoing revitalisation of our town centre over recent years, and we are proud to be involved. For too long, Barnsley Civic has lacked an active presence on Eldon Street. This work not only provides a vibrant cultural resource for our community but also honours and celebrates the unique heritage of this iconic building.”

The reopening celebrations will include a variety of entertainment and workshops, echoing Barnsley Civic’s rich history while looking forward to its dynamic future. Visitors can expect a vibrant mix of performances from local artists, workshops, a high-profile artist exhibition to be announced in July, heritage displays showcasing Barnsley Civic’s role throughout the years, and much more.

In line with its vision to be ‘the cultural heart of Barnsley’, the event will not only celebrate the historical significance of the building but also highlight Barnsley Civic’s role in delivering incredible performances, exhibitions, and cultural activity in partnership with the people of Barnsley.

“Our aim is to fill every corner of Barnsley Civic with exciting activity, making it a place where everyone belongs, and where every visit leaves a lasting impression,” added Anthony Baker.

The reopening is a call to the hearts of all Barnsley residents and visitors to join in a collective journey of discovery and enjoyment, ensuring that the spirit of Barnsley Civic remains a vibrant part of Barnsley’s cultural landscape for generations to come.

This event is not only a reopening but also a reimagining of what Barnsley Civic is – to serve the people of Barnsley with a renewed programme of performances and gallery shows developed in consultation with them.

For more information and updates on the reopening event, please visit barnsleycivic.co.uk.

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