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Former market building to be part of Manchester music venue

A well-known music venue in Manchester is to be expanded, by incorporating a derelict former market building in the Northern Quarter.

The Band on the Wall has been granted planning permission by Manchester City Council for a £3.5 million expansion project, which will involve extending the venue to incorporate the adjacent derelict Cocozza building. 

Among the last remaining structural features of the Victorian Smithfield Market, the Cocozza building will provide the extra space required by knocking through the walls separating it from the existing venue. New insulation will be needed, particularly of the acoustic variety, to keep it both warm and soundproof, as one of the benefits of the expansion will be to increase the audience capacity of the performance space from 350 to 500. 

The extension will also create more space for training aspiring young musicians and technicians, with the latter being able to work on digital production alongside visiting international artists. 

OMI Architects, which specialises in regenerating derelict old buildings, is designing the scheme, which will be funded from a range of sources, chiefly cash from the Arts Council for England. As a charity, owners Inner City Music have limited funds, although once the new facility is in place it will be able to gain more income from a commercial kitchen and an expansion of the Picturehouse Bar, which will include extra outside terrace space.

Chief executive of Inner City Music Gavin Sharp commented: "There has been a music venue operating at Band on the Wall for over a century, and we want to make sure it will be here for at least another 100 years.

"Bringing the Cocozza building into our footprint means we can significantly increase the main venue capacity, expand and upgrade our learning facilities and create a second smaller, intimate venue on-site which will have a capacity of 80."

The expanded Band on the Wall will not be the only exciting music venue people can visit in Manchester over the next few years. Across the city centre, the Factory will be a key part of the St John's development, emerging as a major arts education and performance venue at the site of the former Granada Studios.