The Guildhall Trust, the organisation that manages Portsmouth Guildhall, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its formation, reflecting on some of its key achievements and successes of the last decade.
Established as an Independent not for Profit Distributing Organisation (NPDO) in 2011, Portsmouth Cultural Trust became a registered charity in 2013 and rebranded to The Guildhall Trust following an extensive consultation process in 2019.
With the vision of inspiring, entertaining and transforming lives, in addition to managing the operation of Portsmouth’s largest and most iconic concert venue and its smaller Studio space, The Guildhall Trust has produced a range of successful events, including Portsmouth Comic-Con – International Festival of Comics, Big Mouth Comedy Festival and Guildhall Games Fest and delivers a range of engaging opportunities for all the community through its interactive ‘Get Involved’ programme.
One of the leading Conferencing centres on the South coast, The Guildhall Trust has also developed the use of Portsmouth Guildhall for weddings, proms, parties, room hire, office lets, a business lounge and ever-evolving exhibition space, gaining the support of Patrons including Joanna Lumley, Jools Holland, Mark King, Spike Edney and Christopher Le Brun.
In a snapshot of the last 10 years:
The Guildhall Trust has successfully grown the venue income from concerts, bars and secondary sales by 55%
Concert highlights have included Gorillaz, Robert Plant, Scissor Sisters, Motorhead, Twenty One Pilots, Royal Blood, Judas Priest, Paloma Faith, Mumford & Sons, Bournemouth and London Symphony Orchestras and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Tim Minchin, Bastille, Gary Barlow, The Script and Sarah Millican.
The Guildhall Trust has increased Conferencing business by 95%
Event highlights have included University of Portsmouth Graduations and open days, Clipper Round the World Ocean Race – team announcement day, CLIA Conference attended by Richard Branson, WI AGM, events for NHS, Red Cross and CPS, PMN Wedding Fayres, Friend Finder Prom, The News Business Awards and sell-out Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties.
The Guildhall Trust’s Get Involved programme now has over 14,000 instances of engagement every year!
Key highlights include the Dance Live! competition for young people, Urban Vocal Group (which joined the Trust in 2021), Recharge Singing Group – aged 55+, ABC Baby and Children’s Concerts, Southsea Skiffle Orchestra, a Creative Careers programme for schools and colleges, an Industry Insights programme and a Tickets for the Community scheme which has distributed over 2,500 tickets since its launch in 2018.
Memorable dates have included:
2013: Portsmouth Music Experience Exhibition opened at Portsmouth Guildhall
2014: The Trust presented Southsea Comedy Festival headlined by Eddie Izzard and The Southsea Show in partnership with the city’s cultural organisations
2014: Street Games & Funky Town Festival held in Guildhall Square
2014: The ‘Wall of Fame’ celebrating artists connected to Portsmouth was established
2015: Guildhall 125 Celebrations
2015-2018: Clocktower Classics Car & Vintage event
2017: Beating Heart Festival
2017: The Guildhall Trust took on stewardship of Hornpipe Theatre Company
2018: Guildhall Studio opened
2018 onwards: Big Mouth Comedy Festival
2018 onwards: Portsmouth Comic-Con – International Festival of Comics
2018 onwards: Guildhall Games Fest
2020: Discover the Guildhall HLF Project and Exhibition
2020: Inaugural year of Dance Live!
2021: Urban Vocal Group joined The Guildhall Trust
CEO Andy Grays, who took on leadership of the Trust in 2012, said, “It is staggering when I look back and reflect on what we have accomplished over the past 10 years! We have significantly diversified the use of the venue and its income streams, providing greater security for the much-loved Guildhall and a base from which we can look to invest in its Renaissance in the coming years. As an organisation, we are passionate about our values and place the community at the heart of everything we do. I am particularly proud of our own world-class events that The Guildhall Trust team has produced and am excited about the prospect for these as we look to take them and other services that the Trust can offer to venues beyond the Guildhall.
Chris Gilder, who has been a Trustee since the formation of the Trust in 2011, said, “I joined as a Trustee as I wanted to do some voluntary work, make connections and get closer to what was going on in the city. The progression over the last 10 years has been incredible – from the development of the programme on offer and how the building has become accessible to so many more groups of people are achievements that I am particularly proud of. The pandemic has undoubtedly been the toughest time, but we will continue to develop as a benchmark for delivering community engagement, education and high-quality performance and to improve accessibility and the diversity of what is on offer in Portsmouth”.
Chairman of the Trust, Mark Turner, said “The last year of our first decade has been the most challenging, from the moment that we had to close at short notice in March 2020, through the lockdowns, the false starts and the continuing uncertainty of the roadmap. The Trustees are grateful that the management and staff have responded so well to what has been a crisis, working from home or coming back from furlough and picking up the reins ready to move forward. We have had to make reductions in staff numbers that were painful, but they leave us in good shape to face the future.
Our cultural and educational work is close to my heart, and I am delighted that we have been able to welcome UVG into the Trust to help them grow and to broaden the range of our activities, and I look forward to Dance Live! coming back with full force in 2022.
We face a number of challenges, as does the city and society as a whole, but I am absolutely certain that The Guildhall Trust will be able to look back in 2031 and reflect on the second decade of playing its part in bringing live performance to the heart of Portsmouth.”
A new website dedicated to the services of The Guildhall Trust is set to launch soon. In the meantime, head to www.portsmouthguildhall.org.uk to find out more.