02 February 2022
Following an extensive review of the condition of the Opera House building, a revised timescale for the renovation of Jersey Opera House has been agreed between the Government of Jersey and the board of Jersey Opera House Limited. The new target date for the theatre’s reopening to the public is now June 2023.
The ambition had been to reopen the Grade 2 listed building in the summer of 2022, but having reviewed its condition and considered the volume and complexity of the restoration, the project team responsible for restoring Jersey Opera House believes that more time is needed to undertake the refurbishment.
The Assistant Minister with responsibility for arts, Deputy Kirsten Morel, said: “I am truly sorry that the Opera House will not be able to reopen until June 2023, which is one year later than initially expected. Until now, the work had been scheduled based on estimates, but now that experts have been able to fully review the condition surveys against the proposed schedule of works, we have a much clearer idea of the necessary timeframe.
“There’s no doubt that this situation is frustrating for all Islanders, and particularly those engaged in the performing arts, but the positive element of this news is that the new timescale comes with greater certainty. Following the extensive refurbishment work, Islanders will be able to enjoy going to the theatre in the knowledge that the building is safe, fit for purpose and that the improvements will make it a better building in which to both perform and enjoy theatrical performances.
“In the period between now and June of next year, I, as Assistant Minister, and officers in the Department for the Economy will continue to support the arts community, enabling a wide range of performances to take place in venues across the Island. We will also regularly communicate the progress that is being made with the restoration.”
The delay means that the £2.2 million required for the work will no longer be provided by the Fiscal Stimulus Fund, which stipulated that the work had to be completed by June 2022. Instead, the Minister for Treasury and Resources, Deputy Susie Pinel, has agreed that the required investment will be allocated from alternative funding sources.
Deputy Morel added: “The Government is fully committed to the refurbishment of the Opera House, which is a magnificent venue that we want to maintain long into the future for all islanders to enjoy.
“The building’s health and safety issues have accumulated over time and while the closure is frustrating, it is the only way to undertake the work and ensure we have a fantastic theatre for the long term. I am working with officers and the Board of the Opera House to ensure we reopen with a great building and a structure for the theatre as a company, which ensures the building is no longer a burden. This will enable the island’s artists and musicians to produce great performances at the Opera House and audiences will be able to enjoy theatre and music of an international standard.”
During the next 18 months of closure, and following the review of performance art venues in Jersey, a revised agreement will be reached with the Opera House Board for the use and maintenance of the building.
The Chair of Jersey Opera House Board Limited, Pierre Horsfall, said: “It is some comfort that this disruption will result in us taking charge of a building which is fit for purpose, and that we will have a clear agreement between Government and the Board for the lease and ongoing maintenance of the building.”