Digbeth Institute Building
|Location||78 Digbeth High Street, Birmingham,B5 6DY England|
|Owner||MAMA & Company|
It is now operated as The Institute, a 2,900 capacity music venue. It has three main rooms: the 2,000-capacity main auditorium called "The Institute" which has a seated upper balcony, the downstairs room which holds up to 600 people called "The Library" and the 300-capacity upstairs room 'The Temple'.
Designed by Arthur Harrison, it was officially opened January 16, 1908 by the wife of the Pastor of Carrs Lane Church, John Henry Jowett, as an institutional church attached to Carr's Lane Congregational Church. In the week that followed, it hosted a variety of acts. The area which surrounded it was predominantly slums and industrial.
In 1954, the building was put up for sale by the trustees as they felt the building was not needed for its originally intended use. It was bought by Birmingham City Council in 1955 for £65,000 and was used as a civic hall.
In 1987, the building was used as a film studio by the Birmingham Film and Video Workshop for the Channel 4 film 'Out Of Order'. The venue also played a part as one of the main locations in the feature film 'Lycanthropy', filmed in 2005-2006.
In the 1980s the venue was refurbished, and in 1998 The Sanctuary opened, which was to be the original home of the Cambridge/Northampton born club night Godskitchen. It also played host to club nights such as Atomic Jam, Uproar, Slinky, Sundissential, Athletico, Ramshackle, Insurrection, Inukshuk and Panic.
In 2005, Channelfly Company bought the downstairs “cellar” room, and turned it into the Birmingham Barfly. This 400 capacity venue was host to touring bands and local bands.
The MAMA Group acquired Channelfly as a subsidiary in 2006. This meant the Birmingham Barfly was now owned by MAMA Group.
In 2008 the MAMA Group took over the lease of the whole building (including both the Barfly and The Sanctuary). Work was started on renovating the building, especially the historic features. The work was due to be finished in September 2009.
In January 2009 HMV bought a 9.9% stake in The MAMA Group (by taking 50% of the Mean Fiddler). In January 2010 HMV bought the remaining percentage of the MAMA group for £46million. After a £4 million refurbishment, the HMV Institute opened on 18 September 2010. In December 2012, HMV sold its assets to Lloyds Development Capital (LDC) for under £8million.
The exterior is a mixture of red brick and grey terracotta. The grey terracotta forms the more ornate features of the façade including the three towers, the 1.65 metre tall allegorical figures and the window and door frames. The six allegorical figures are believed to be the work of John Evans, the chief modeller for Gibbs & Canning. Two hold open books and two have musical instruments (a third's instrument is lost). The final figure holds a purse, representing public charity. The drawings of the building by Arthur Harrison do not include the figures, indicating that these were probably added in 1909. The building is Grade B locally listed.
- Kenneth Scott Latourette (1958). Christianity in a Revolutionary Age: A History of Christianity in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries in Europe. Harper.
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