Works Progress as New Funder Announced and Pilot Project Set to Launch

As work to transform the basement of Portsmouth Guildhall into one of the most unique and innovative creative facilities for young people in the country is fully underway, a further funder of the project is announced with an exciting pilot programme of activity set to launch in the new year.

The new facility which will be named The BASE, due to open in late Spring 2024, will provide a safe and welcoming space for young people aged 11-25, giving them access to a band rehearsal room with backline equipment, a studio with a DJ mixing space, an AV suite with specialist software, a performance space and a lounge/exhibition area.

Contributing a grant of £50,000 to the capital development is The Clothworkers’ Foundation which aims to improve the lives of people and communities, particularly those facing disadvantage and marginalisation.
Post-pandemic, it has been widely reported that young people have become more disengaged and isolated, with one in four suffering heightened anxiety and poor mental health. It will be a priority of The BASE to remove barriers to engagement and offer a nurturing environment for all to provide a much-needed facility within the community.    

Head of Open Grants for The Clothworkers’ Foundation, Jack Abbotts, said, “We are really happy to be able to support The Guildhall Trust with a grant of £50,000. The new space will allow the charity to continue its work in a fantastic new environment which will be a significant asset for local young people. We look forward to seeing it on its completion!”

Other funders of the £1.4million project have previously been announced as Arts Council England, Portsmouth City Council and The Foyle Foundation.

As well as a drop-in facility, The BASE will deliver a range of workshops, activities and masterclasses that will help young people to develop their creative potential.     
A pilot programme of music-making activities that will be transferred to The BASE once the space is ready to open, is set to run from February 2024. The activities, ranging from songwriting and DJing to spoken word, mural painting, the chance to stage scratch nights and more, plus the formation of a youth advisory group, the BASEpanel, to further advise on the development, are being supported by a £28,857 grant from Youth Music’s Trailblazer fund.     

Working in partnership with City of Portsmouth College, students based at its Highbury campus as part of their work experience for a diploma in Art & Design, are creating posters and social graphics to promote the pilot programme which will be announced soon.       

Head of Learning & Participation for The Guildhall Trust, Hayley Reay said, “Since launching the Trust’s Get Involved programme over 10 years ago, it has been the dream to have a purpose-built and dedicated space that is specially created for young people and the activities we offer. Having young people involved in developing The BASE and the programme that they want to be a part of is fundamental to creating something that really connects and has impact, and we are excited for the opportunities we will be able to offer the young people of Portsmouth!”        

The first month of the build works, which will also see the renovation of the Guildhall’s main toilet facilities, has seen the strip out of existing facilities, the demolition of internal walls, deep drilling for new drainage, new door openings being created, and preparations being made for a new flooring.

Alex Ward, MD of Emsworth-based design and construction company, Chalk Creatives, who were selected to complete the transformation said, “We are pleased with the progress made to date. As with most build projects, we have encountered some things that have taken longer than expected, such as the drilling of the concrete slab for the new drainage, but we are excited to see the changes already taking place and what an exceptional facility this will be for the immediate community and wider audience”.

You can find out more and follow the progress of The BASE at:

Young people are encouraged to follow The BASE on social media and sign up to receive The BASE newsletter to be the first to hear more about how they can engage with the exciting, new space.   

About The Clothworkers’ Foundation
The Clothworkers’ Foundation improves the lives of people and communities – particularly those facing disadvantage and marginalisation – through grant making. We award more than £7 million annually in capital grants to charities registered in the UK or not-for-profit organisations working across the ten areas of priority defined in our Large and Small Grants programme.

The Clothworkers’ Foundation has awarded capital grants in excess of £165 million since 1977, when we were was set up as the primary vehicle of charitable giving for The Clothworkers’ Company. Today, The Company is a membership organisation with a mission to inspire and empower individuals and communities through action, partnership and financial support (with a particular focus on UK textiles, charity governance, and philanthropy – through The Clothworkers’ Foundation and beyond). Following its initial endowment gift, The Company transfers more than £3 million in surplus funds to The Foundation each year.

The Clothworkers’ Company has a long history of charitable giving, going back almost 500 years when one of the functions of The Company was to support members who had fallen on hard times. In the 1500s, to fulfil the longstanding object of ‘relief of poverty’, The Company began to pay pensions to members in financial difficulty and, by 1540, it maintained alms houses in locations including the City of London and Islington. The Company has also worked to improve the lives of blind and visually impaired people for at least 300 years. Over the centuries, as The Company’s wealth increased, and it started to help non-members, but it was not until 1977 that The Company created The Clothworkers’ Foundation to more effectively direct the majority of its philanthropic activities.

About The Guildhall Trust & Portsmouth Guildhall

Portsmouth Guildhall is the primary Events and Conferencing Centre in the South of England. With a packed entertainment programme of world-class live music, comedy, classical, dance, family shows and a popular public events programme, there is something for everyone to enjoy within the historic and iconic 2000 seat venue in the heart of Portsmouth.

By day, Portsmouth Guildhall offers a wide range of activities, workshops, groups and courses through its active ‘Get Involved’ programme for the community and changing programme of exhibitions.

The Guildhall Trust has been the sole operator of Portsmouth Guildhall since 2011, transforming the business model and sustainability of the venue, making the Trust one of the most efficient and effective managements around.