The Bridgewater Hall

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by The Bridgewater Hall's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from The Bridgewater Hall is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Andrew Bolt, CEO
The Bridgewater Hall
Opened in 1996, The Bridgewater Hall is a world-
class symphony hall with 2,300-seat capacity based in
Manchester. The Hallé Orchestra is resident within the
building and the BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Camerata
appear regularly on its stage. Though very aware of its
fundamental raison d’être, it has nonetheless engaged the wider
community and the varying cultural tastes that exist within it. At
the fore of this open-mindedness is its CEO, Andrew Bolt, and
his team.
Keeping up with the times
At The Bridgewater Hall, it’s important to us that our venue remains true to its
origins. It is, after all, a symphony hall and throughout its 22 years of operation it
has established itself as one of the most important classical music venues in the
country, having garnered an enviable reputation internationally – the venue is
architecturally and acoustically precise and so it fulfils its role wonderfully. With
that said, we are not blind to the fact that musical tastes are not as uniform as
they once were, having since become more diverse – particularly in the latter half
of the last century. Culture in general has become more pluralistic, and not just
because of an increasingly diverse ethnic make-up (though that is important);
music as a cultural phenomenon has developed within it many subcultures and
artistic derivatives. As an internationally recognised music venue, we’ve had to
ensure we keep abreast of these sociological shifts. Testifying to how much we’ve
accommodated to these changes is the fact that roughly 40 per cent of the some-
500 performances and events that take place under The Bridgewater Hall’s roof are
»CEO: Andrew Bolt
»Established in 1996
»Based in Manchester
»Services: Symphony hall and
music venue
»No. of employees:
60permanent and
»Voted among top 10 venues
of its type in the world
»Hosts concerts more generally,
including the Welsh DJ, Sasha
The Bridgewater Hall
now non-symphonic. This brings us to
a core value of ours: diversity.
As a venue we are keenly committed
to ensuring the wider community feels
involved, which is why, in addition to
hosting classical music performances,
we also encourage performances
from non-European cultures and
backgrounds. Doing so is not a token
measure or a mere ticking of a box; it
is rather a sincere reflection of our love
for the Greater Manchester area and
our willingness to have all of its cultural
components properly represented and
catered to.
Another key commitment of ours
is excellence, not least through the
presentation of important artistic
performances for our audiences
worthy of our international reputation.
This is because excellence in
performances can uniquely furnish
and enrich our lives. Indeed, great
performances can go beyond merely
entertaining people; they can change
the individual’s attitudes toward the
world and lift their spirit. These are
dimensions of human experience that
it would be a great misfortune to lose
from Mancunian cultural life. We at
The Bridgewater Hall are delighted
to be among the guarantors against
At a more grassroots level, we engage
with the community by offering the
smaller cultural segments and less-
heard performers of Manchester a
platform. This entails, for instance,
hosting events that cater to toddlers,
parents, schools, local up-and-coming
musicians, as well as people who
want to participate in other skills such
as, for example, t’ai chi. We have
partnered with local infrastructure
agencies, such as Metrolink when
we commissioned 93 musical pieces
(one to be played at each tram
stop) as part of that organisation’s
25th anniversary celebrations. We
engage with the community in
this way through our Community
Engagement Trust and by having a
A welcoming environment
Main auditorium
We are keenly
committed to
ensuring the
feels involved
Highlighting best practice
dedicated community outreach and
Important also is the recognition that,
in addition to pleasing an audience,
we must provide a professional and
organisationally flexible environment
for producers and artists, i.e. our
clients. Flexibility, that is, to assist them
in the production set-up phase which
is essential in providing a performance
environment that will assist them most.
Daring to be different
Beyond that, we also want to expand
the horizon of the type of fine art
performances we host and present.
This involves thoughtful programming
experimentation, as audiences are
more willing these days to attend
a wide variety of performance
experiences, including those that might
reasonably fall into the category of
avant-garde. As an example of this, we
now show films in tandem with a live
orchestral performance.
The work of John Williams, for
example, is inspiring and uplifting, but
it’s easy to forget during a film just how
great an artistic feat these pieces of
film music are. By having an orchestra
play in synch with the film, a vastly
more powerful experience is had by the
audience. This is a developing cultural
form that we and our producing
clients are now presenting. We will be
working with the BBC Philharmonic in
early 2019 with a view to taking this
form to another level – the visuals that
the audience see will be produced live
as the orchestra perform works that are
considered great yet normally standard
concert repertoire – this will be a first
for The Bridgewater Hall audiences in
From a personal perspective, I enjoy
these new artistic challenges, as I
come from a background in orchestral
management, media production and
venue management.
Sometimes it’s argued that business
proficiency and cultural aestheticism
are traits in zero-sum contest with
each other. I have found that the
two elements can complement each
other, and this is what I strive to do
with my team at The Bridgewater Hall.
The model of supply and demand
holds true for our industry, and we
can act accordingly like every other
At The Bridgewater Hall, adhering
to disciplined business practices is a
necessity, because we do not rely on
government funding. As a result, the
operational side of The Bridgewater
Hall is funded through our venue
activity, on which we work to be
innovative – ensuring we remain
secure within the developing economic
Ultimately, I and my team are optimistic
for the future. It’s deeply encouraging
to see the level of engagement with
live music performances from the
public. Despite earlier fears that
personal technology would disrupt
this market, people still yearn for live,
in-the-flesh performance. Moreover,
the public is showing a keen interest in
varying art forms, and we’ll continue to
expand our offering in accordance with
this. Music, after all, is a vital feature of
human life, and we at The Bridgewater
Hall will remain at the fore of fulfilling
this universal need.
It’s deeply
to see the
level of
with live music
from the
Main stage

This article was sponsored by The Bridgewater Hall. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy