Opera North’s new HQ to be named after benefactor Dr Keith Howard OBE11:47, 22nd January 2020
Opera North has announced that its redeveloped headquarters will take on a new name, the Howard Opera Centre, in recognition of an £11.25 million gift from philanthropist Dr Keith Howard OBE.
The Leeds-based company has launched a fundraising campaign aiming to raise £18 million for its current redevelopment project, Music Works. This donation from Dr Howard, founder of Emerald Group Publishing and President of Opera North, is thought to be among the largest private donations ever made to a UK-based arts company outside of London.
Situated in Leeds city centre’s New Briggate and Harrison Street, the Howard Opera Centre will contain Opera North’s rehearsal studios, costume and wigs workshop and administrative offices as well as a new Education Studio and a suite of music coaching rooms.
Alongside the Howard Opera Centre will be the Howard Assembly Room, a 300-seat performance venue opened in 2009 and named in recognition of Howard’s support for the company. The Howard Assembly Room is currently closed during the redevelopment project and is due to reopen in 2021 having undertaken improvements such as a new fully accessible entrance and atrium, and a new restaurant and bar.
With further contributions from Leeds City Council, Arts Council England and various private donors and trusts including the Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation, 87% of the target has now been raised leaving a funding gap of £2.4 million to close.
Richard Mantle, Opera North’s general director comments: ‘Opera North is delighted to be able to recognise the extraordinary generosity of our longstanding supporter and friend, Dr Keith Howard, whose contribution to this project means that we are able to create a new artistic home for the company, as well as improving the infrastructure, access and visitor experience for the Howard Assembly room.’
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, adds: ‘We are pleased to see this significant redevelopment now taking shape, creating a vastly improved artistic and educational hub for one of Leeds’ leading cultural assets. Opera North makes a huge contribution to the city, both in terms of the vitality and diversity of work seen on stage, and also through its work with children, young people and communities throughout our region.’
Find out more about Music Works here.