Digbeth Institute

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O2 Institute Birmingham
Digbeth Institute (1).jpg
Digbeth Institute Building
Location 78 Digbeth High Street, Birmingham,B5 6DY England
Coordinates 52°28′32.13″N 1°53′14.55″W / 52.4755917°N 1.8873750°W / 52.4755917; -1.8873750Coordinates: 52°28′32.13″N 1°53′14.55″W / 52.4755917°N 1.8873750°W / 52.4755917; -1.8873750
Owner MAMA & Company
Type Live music
Genre(s) Music, Comedy
Capacity 2,900

Digbeth Institute is a civic building in Digbeth, Birmingham, England also known as Digbeth Civic Hall. It is now operated as the O2 Institute Birmingham,[1] 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 'O2 Institute Birmingham2 (formerly 'The Library') and the 300-capacity upstairs room 'O2 Institute Birmingham3' (formerly '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,[2] 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.[2]

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.

People known to have made speeches at the Digbeth Institute include Neville Chamberlain, Henry Usborne, Florence L. Barclay and Herbert Hensley Henson.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s it housed the Midland Jazz club.

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,[3] 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.[4] This 400 capacity venue was host to touring bands and local bands.

The MAMA Group acquired Channelfly as a subsidiary in 2006.[5] 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.[6] After a £4 million refurbishment, the HMV Institute opened on 18 September 2010.[7][8][9] In December 2012, HMV sold its assets to Lloyds Development Capital (LDC) for under £8million.[10] In 2015, the venue was acquired by Live Nation, and re-branded as O2 Institute Birmingham, as part of the O2 Academy Group.[11]


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.[12] The drawings of the building by Arthur Harrison do not include the figures, indicating that these were probably added in 1909.[13] The building is Grade B locally listed.[14]


  1. ^ Cannon, Matt (12 October 2015). "Digbeth live music venue The Institute undergoes name change". Birmingham Mail. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 16 December 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Kenneth Scott Latourette (1958). Christianity in a Revolutionary Age: A History of Christianity in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries in Europe. Harper. 
  3. ^ "Birmingham Attractions". Yahoo Travel. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Barfly to open sixth venue". Music Week. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "International Music Community". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "HMV buys MAMA Group in live music takeover deal". BBC News. 23 December 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "Birmingham's newest music venue HMV Institute ready to open its doors" Birmingham Post: Accessed October 10th, 2010
  8. ^ "Birmingham venue set to reopen its doors" NME: Accessed October 10th, 2010
  9. ^ "Barfly takes over The Sanctuary". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  10. ^ Chassany, Anne-Sylvaine. "HMV sells Mama Group music arm to LDC". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  11. ^ http://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/live-nation-re-brands-3-ex-mama-venues-as-o2-in-the-uk/
  12. ^ "Allegorical Figures". National Recording Project. Public Monument and Sculpture Association. Archived from the original on 24 August 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2010. 
  13. ^ George Thomas Noszlopy (1998). Public Sculpture of Birmingham: Including Sutton Coldfield. Liverpool University Press. ISBN 0-85323-692-5. 
  14. ^ Birmingham City Council - List of Locally Listed Buildings

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