How Lottery Funding Has Changed The Face of Birmingham

In another guest authored article, Austin Weaver, a writer for The Lotter Blog writes about how lottery funding has changed the face of Birmingham.  He recently wrote about Birmingham being the luckiest city in the UK with the number of winners here,

The Birmingham landscape has seen a lot of exciting changes and upgrades over the years. From local heritage sites to cultural centres, the city has experienced a huge revitalisation over the past few decades. The money to fund these large development projects needed to have come from somewhere, so the UK National Lottery stepped in and has contributed significant funds to the regeneration of the city of Birmingham. 

The UK National Lottery established the National Lottery Good Causes Fund with the aim of allocating lottery funds to various community organisations across the United Kingdom. Funding comes from income generated through local lottery ticket sales, as well as through online lottery tickets sold internationally by online service providers, such as theLotter.

In the words of P.M. David Cameron, ““Birmingham Town Hall, Mac Birmingham – everyone in this city knows these great local facilities. But not everyone realises that they owe a large part of their success to funding from the National Lottery – which, over the last two decades, has funded nearly 7,000 local projects in this city.”

Let’s take a look at some of the most notable projects and facilities that have been upgraded or built using lottery funds.

Birmingham Town Hall – This famous music hall is one of Birmingham’s key landmarks. Town Hall was first opened in 1834 as the premier music hall in all of England. The years took its toll on the splendour of the hall, and a renovation and restoration project was much needed. 

A £35m renovation project was set up to renovate Town Hall, and a specialised team of construction and conservation experts went to work on the structure. The project required an investment of pain-staking labour and millions of pounds in funding. The £35 million renovation was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£13.7m), Birmingham City Council (£18.3m), and the European Regional Development Fund (£3m).  

On October 4th, 2007, the newly-restored Town Hall reopened with all the ceremony it deserved. A two week-long festival was held, based on the theme of the re-opening, which was ‘Celebrating the Past, Pioneering the Future’.

Today, Town Hall is still a focal point of Birmingham City Centre’s Victoria and Chamberlain Squares. Its grand, neo-classical structure is a huge attraction for tourists and locals alike.

mac (Midlands Arts Centre) Birmingham – mac has been around since 1962, so 30 years later, in 1992, it became apparent that the building needed a total restoration and renovation. Such a project required extensive construction work and massive funding. In stepped the National Lottery with funding and the local Council with support, and the project got the green light. Finally, in May 2010, the newly-renovated mac was reopened and was an immediate success, with more than 30,000 people visiting the centre on the opening weekend.

The facility now has 40% more floor space than it had previously, and it also has superior facilities. There are now conference and meeting rooms, cafes and bars. The centre has a busy schedule filled with events, exhibitions, theatre, cinema, dance programmes, and even enrichment classes.

Millennium Point – The turn of the century saw some remarkable structures being built in Britain to commemorate the new millennium. There was the Millennium Dome in London of course, and in Birmingham, we saw the construction of Millennium Point. These structures are well-known, but did you know that they were partially funded using lottery grants?

The inspiration behind Millennium Point was to have a central structure, housing a science museum (named Thinktank), portions of Birmingham City University, and a massive cinema. The structure was built in the Eastside part of Birmingham, with the aim of rejuvenating that area of the city.

Millennium Point opened its doors in 2001, and has had mixed reviews about its impact and non-central location. However, in the words of its CEO, Philip Singleton, “We have created a buzz about Eastside and we continue to do so,” says Singleton.

These are just a few of the landmarks in and around Birmingham that have been built from the ground up or renovated thanks to lottery funds. There are also many parks, heritage sites and other notable buildings that have benefited from UK National Lottery donations.


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