Stretford Public Hall was historically a public building. After it struggled to stay in business as a civic theatre, the council eventually bought the space for its own offices before putting the hall up for sale in 2014. This is when the people behind Friends of Stretford Public Hall came together to bring the hall back to public use.
With the help of a Power to Change grant and match funding, the team launched a successful community share offer. Over 800 local people invested in the hall and helped raise over £1 million, enabling Friends of Stretford Public Hall to bring it into community hands and restore the ballroom.
Creating a viable future
The renovations on the ballroom were due to start in June 2020. Despite Covid-19 restrictions, the project was able to keep moving as many of the initial tasks, including contracting and architectural work, could be carried out remotely. The work at Stretford Public Hall was completed in 2021, making the ballroom the biggest cultural space in the town.
Before renovation work began on the hall, it was used for community events, including workshops, cinema screenings and health services. But now, thanks to new lighting, heating and entirely fresh decoration, Stretford Public Hall now hosts paid-for events to generate a vital revenue stream for long-term self-sufficiency. Within a few months of reopening its doors, the hall had hosted five weddings and a number of large conferences. There are now 17 team members on the payroll.
Community support during Covid-19
Stretford Public Hall has always worked closely with the local authority, and this came to the fore during Covid-19 when the council asked if the hall could serve as a community hub. With the help of lots of volunteers, the team stepped in to host a foodbank, run a phone line to provide information on vital services and deliver shopping and prescriptions to residents who were shielding. The team is looking to take this hub model forward to continue giving local people access to information and services.
The future for Stretford Public Hall
All profits that Stretford Public Hall generates will be reinvested into the hall and its programme. It is now looking to diversify its use, by investing in sound proofing so that it can host live music events and potentially developing the basement. The team is also continuing to grow its community-led programme to reach a wider audience.