Dundee could get new opera house and concert hall on back of V&A

Dundee is exploring plans for a multi-million pound concert hall, opera house and conference centre for its waterfront to follow the opening of its V&A museum.

An arena complex with a capacity of up to 6,000 is on the cards under ambitious plans to develop the city’s cultural infrastructure on the back of interest generated by the opening of Scotland’s first dedicated design museum.

It is seeking a private sector partner for the project, which would provide a massive boost to Dundee’s business tourism market.

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It is thought to already be worth around £68 million annually to the city before the addition of the V&A building’s facilities.

The new V&A design museum has had a transformational effect on Dundee and has fueled plans for a new opera house and concert hall. Picture: John Devlin

Kengo Kuma, the Japanese architect who designed the waterfront museum, said he was interested in working on future cultural projects in the area, which is currently undergoing a £1 billion regeneration.

An outdoor concert arena was created on the waterfront at the new Slessor Gardens park while V&A Dundee was being built.

Primal Scream will be headling a two-day festival heralding the opening of V&A Dundee this weekend, while Simple Minds, The Pretenders and KT Tunstall performed there last weekend.

However, city leaders want to plug a major gap in the city’s ability to host major indoor concerts – as the biggest venue is the historic Caird Hall, which has a capacity of just 2,300 – as well as carve out a major slice of Scotland’s conference and business tourism market.

Mike Galloway, executive director of city development at Dundee Council, said: “There is definitely a gap in the market in Dundee for an indoor events arena that could double up as a conference and convention facility as well.

“We recognise that Dundee V&A is going to attract more than half a million leisure tourists, but probably more important to the city’s economy is business tourism.

“We’re not looking at anything huge which would directy compete with existing arenas in Aberdeen and Glasgow – it has to be the right facility that fits into our market and I’d really want it to be close to the city centre. We have a few options that we are looking at.

“The important thing is whether we can get a facility like this from the private sector or is it a facility that needs huge pump-priming from the public sector. If it is the latter it will be difficult to do at this point in time.

“We’d rather have a private sector and we’re talking to a few people who could do something commercial with music events and the conference market. We’re looking at doing something around the 5,000-6,000 capacity mark for concerts.

“We’ve got to maintain the momentum from the V&A opening. It’s a huge staging post. But we’re already working on the next projects. If you’re standing still you are going backwards. You’ve always got to be moving forwards.”

City council leader John Alexander said: “The momentum that we have gathered as a result of the V&A has to be continue long into the future. It can’t be a flash in the pan. We’re absolutely committed to making sure that’s not the case. We’re working actively on proposals at the moment.

“If all we do is say ‘that’s us done – we’ve created the V&A’ we will be shooting ourselves in the foot. We have to continue to invest in culture because it delivers results.”

Mr Kuma said: “I don’t know the city’s plans at the moment, but I would be very interested if it was to look at building a new venue. A cultural mix could really activate the whole waterfront of Dundee.”