Work to transform the basement of Portsmouth Guildhall into The BASE, an exciting, new creative space for young people, is picking up pace after unexpected delays to the heavy works added an additional 12 weeks to the build schedule.

Like many historic buildings, the Guildhall gave the contractors a few surprises along the way of the project, with a concrete slab that needed to be drilled for drainage being much deeper than anticipated requiring a specialist team and equipment to overcome.

Now able to move forward from the drainage works, floors are being laid, walls are being tiled, ventilation and electrical systems have been installed and sanitaryware in the new toilet facilities is about to be fitted with the space now due to fully open in June 2024.

Whilst the works have progressed, an exciting pilot programme of activities supported by Youth Music’s Trailblazer fund has been taking place elsewhere in the venue, which will transfer to The BASE once completed if proven successful.

The free creative courses and masterclasses for 11-25 year olds delivered by industry professionals have included singing, songwriting, DJ, music, mural painting, visual art, dance, photography, spoken word and performance opportunities, giving young people the opportunity to learn, collaborate and get 1:1 feedback whether they are trialling a new hobby, taking part in fun and engaging activities or wanting to take the next steps in a creative career.

With the pilot programme running until mid-April, it is not too late for young people to get involved and help shape the future programme that will be on offer at The BASE.

Youth Arts Coordinator for The Guildhall Trust, Jaz Manville, said “We have had a great response to the pilot programme for The BASE, and it is not too late for young people to Get Involved! The programme and feedback of those who have attended is vital as this will shape what we go on to offer in The BASE when fully open. We have been a little surprised by which workshops are proving the most popular, so if you are aged 11-25, please do take a look at what is on offer, come along and make sure your voice is heard!     

A safe and welcoming space, The BASE will provide access for young people 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. The development will also see the transformation of the Guildhall’s main toilet facilities with a Changing Places facility to be provided.

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. The BASE will remove barriers to engagement and offer a nurturing environment for all, prioritising young people who are typically under-represented in creative provisions and who may not usually have access to creative opportunities.

Head of Learning & Participation for The Guildhall Trust, Hayley Reay said “Since launching the Trust’s Get Involved programme of activities for young people over 10 years ago, which now includes UVG – Urban Vocal Group, Dance Live!, Creative Careers Roadshow and Choices Days, I have seen firsthand the impact our work has. The benefit that I have seen our music and arts-based activities have on young people’s resilience, mental health and wellbeing is powerful – seeing young people using the activities to build on their social and creative skills and passion for a career in the creative sector, demonstrates why this work is so important. The BASE, a purpose-built and dedicated space for young people, will really enable us to expand our programme and have an even greater impact in the community”.  

A range of exciting opportunities are now also available for businesses and organisations that would like to align their brand with The BASE and support young people in the community.