Bright future for Watford Colosseum

Plans have been accelerated to ensure that the celebrated Grade II listed Watford Colosseum remains an iconic venue for future generations.

The historic building - which has been the recording home for the soundtracks of The Lord of the Rings, The Sound of Music and Star Wars, among others - will undergo a major refurbishment programme, with £5million earmarked for the works.

With all shows cancelled and the venue closed to the public for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus pandemic, the council and the current operator, HQ Theatres, agreed it made sense to end their contract slightly earlier than planned.

Cementing the Colosseum’s reputation as one of the country’s greatest music venues is news of the council’s new two-year deal with the BBC Concert Orchestra, who will continue using it for rehearsals and recordings from January 2021.

Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “The UK’s theatres and venues are amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic. But if the crisis has taught us anything it’s the importance of culture and the arts to our lives. We’re planning significant works which will guarantee that this gem of a building - which is a huge part of the town’s history - will be a huge part of Watford’s future. I am looking forward to the Colosseum reopening to the public in the future and, in the meantime, I am delighted it will still be put to excellent use by the BBC Concert Orchestra.

“Over the years, we have a nurtured a thriving creative, arts and performing community and going into 2021 one of our key priorities is to ensure that this continues to flourish for future generations. Along with committing sizeable funding for the development of arts and culture in Watford, we have built even stronger links through our Watford Together initiative. This united our terrific arts, culture and leisure partners and helped the community to connect in new ways, bringing out the best in our town in a time of adversity. It will be one of our finest and most important legacies after Covid.”

Artistic Director of Watford Palace Theatre, Brigid Larmour said “What is very exciting about the Council’s new plan for the Colosseum is that, in addition to preserving and enhancing its role as a home for our world famous BBC Concert Orchestra, it is also reimagining how the building can be used, offering new opportunities for local professional artists and creative community projects. This will build on the strong partnerships that already exist within Watford’s cultural sector, which have become even closer during the Covid crisis. In these difficult times, it’s important for us as a town to keep looking ahead to the future, and ensure that this much loved part of our cultural heritage can continue to play a central role in the life of the community.”

Andrew Connolly, Director, BBC Concert Orchestra added: “I am delighted that Watford Colosseum and its fine acoustics will continue to be available as our home rehearsal and recording base in 2021. The BBC Concert Orchestra has been coming to Watford on a regular basis since 2002 and we are fortunate to have ongoing access to such a venue.”

Renowned for its acoustics and described as “The finest recording venue in the world” by Julian Lloyd Webber, the council is working closely with the BBC Concert Orchestra to ensure these qualities are maintained.