North East Connected

Middlesbrough Empire set to reopen next week following successful Arts Council grant

As the night-time economy gets ready to reopen next Monday (19 July), the iconic Middlesbrough Empire is ready to open its doors thanks to a £350,000 grant from the Arts Council England through its Cultural Recovery Award.

Thanks to substantial backing from the Arts Council, the 1899 palace of varieties can continue its journey as purveyors of live music, world class DJs, the biggest weekend entertainment and empire sized events.

The funding has been a much needed helping hand for the Middlesbrough Empire to help the cultural gem plan for reopening and recovery and thrive in the better times ahead as they transition to a sustainable business model after more than a year of closure.

A team from Azets led by Andrew Rowe helped the Middlesbrough Empire navigate the complex funding submission, providing financial information to support the sum and application. Azets has advised them for a number of years and was instrumental in advising them throughout the pandemic.

Ashley Wem, Managing Director at the Middlesbrough Empire said:

“To say the last year has been a rollercoaster for us has been an understatement. From closing the doors on the 23 March 2020, we naively expected to reopen a couple of months later. Fast forward to now and it’s thanks to the funding we’ve received that we’ve been able to bring back the team and plan for our reopening. Our first few events have sold out in record time and we’re optimistic about the future. We’re looking forward to the return of our fantastic live audiences to breathe life and energy back into the Empire and thank everyone for the support.

We’ve spent the last 12 months refurbishing the venue and installing brand new state of the art sound systems and lighting rigs to improve the experience as well as installing covid secure toilets amongst other things. I’m confident that we’ll come back bigger and better than before. There’s lots of pent up demand and our reputation as the preeminent venue in the North East should help us thrive in the future.

We’re also aware that many arts institutions in the region didn’t receive funding despite going through the application process so we’re trying to support them in whatever way we can. From stocking products from Fight Back lager and ales and Signature Brew, where a proportion of the sale goes to supporting grassroots music venues in the UK, we want to show solidarity to other venues across the North East.

Azets were such an asset to us. They worked flexibly to help us with the application and their communication throughout the process was excellent. Without Azets, we wouldn’t have been successful in getting the grant. Andrew was available to me 24/7 and always on hand to deal with queries. To have that support was invaluable. Azets are down to earth, speak my language and are part of my team.  My advice to other firms is get the best accountant you can afford.  High quality business advice is worth its weight in gold.”

Andrew Rowe, partner at Azets in the North East said:

“It was a delight to support Ash and his team on their successful Arts Council grant application. It really was a team effort and I’m thrilled to see such an iconic venue bouncing back in style. The night time economy sector is hugely important to our region and I wish those businesses all the best when they reopen on the 19 July. Investing in a thriving cultural sector at the heart of communities is a vital part of helping the North East to recover from the pandemic.

We’ve worked with a number of businesses in the North East, both large and small, on grant applications and supporting them through the pandemic. There is still funding available for businesses and I’d encourage businesses in the region to get in touch. We can help them identify appropriate grants and support them through the process.”

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