Bringing the beat to Bradford edges a step…

Bringing the beat to Bradford edges a step closer

It’s been a challenging time for everyone in the live events industry. After 18 months of difficulty, event venues are now turning a corner and these spaces, which pre-pandemic had been reserved for unforgettable live shows, are now filled with more enthusiasm than ever.

It seems fitting, then, that Bradford gets a special new venue, Bradford Live, to host multi-purpose live events from late 2022. From world class music, to comedy and family entertainment, it feels like a great time to open the venue’s doors.

While it is a ‘new’ venue, it’s one with a rich history.

Having previously played host to the likes of The Beatles, Buddy Holly and The Rolling Stones, the then Bradford Gaumont was one of the biggest names in the UK touring scene.

The hope is to bring the beat back to Bradford – and it’s the venue’s main auditorium which is the centerpiece. An adaptable space, with room for 2,500 standing customers and a futher 1,300 in the circles, can be turned into a 3,100 fully seated layout. This means from music acts to comedy events, the venue will be an attractive proposition.

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The new auditorium floor being laid

The Ballroom and the Gaumont Lounge will be stunning break out spaces for large conferences, while, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Ballroom will be restored to its original 1930s splendour. Original features will remain on-site, with ornate plasterwork currently being worked on and the venue’s floor being strengthened to take all the necessary production that comes with a modern day conference.

Bradford Live is in capable hands. Birmingham-based NEC Group will operate the building, bringing their expertise in live events, conferencing and catering to the city, alongside support from Bradford Council and funding from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, DCMS and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Group runs two 15,000+ capacity arenas in Birmingham and has more than 45 years’ experience in putting on world class events, exhibitions and conferences. The plan is to use all of this at Bradford’s newest venue.

This expertise comes in many shapes and sizes, with two of the NEC Group’s service brands – Amadeus and Amplify – bringing their skills to Bradford Live.

Award-winning live events caterer Amadeus caters for more than 25 venues across the UK, with food locally sourced in West Yorkshire being a key part of their plans. Amplify, meanwhile, offer a diverse range of hospitality options on event nights.

There’s a wide variety of event types planned for the venue. From huge live music shows, right through to weddings and other family celebrations.

This will give a real boost to Bradford’s night time economy and West End / Cultural Quarter. With the help of the Transforming Cities Fund, there are plans in place to pedestrianise the route to this area all the way from the Interchange station. It’s an exciting time – with more than half a million people forecast to visit the venue and the Alhambra alone – it’s a massive opportunity for other businesses to open up in the area.

This lively nightime economy and increased cultural activity would certainly give the UK City of Culture 2025 judges some food for thought – with the city now down to the final eight.

While it may be tempting to cast your mind forward during such an exciting project, it’s been years of hard work and planning behind the scenes to make this a possibility.

RN Wooler were appointed as the venue’s main contractor  in 2021 and progress is going well. Most of the sub-ground work is now complete, while new floors are going down including bases for the new back-of-house kitchens. Most bars and event spaces throughout the building are now formed too.

As Lee Craven, Founding Director of Bradford Live, has previously commented: “The former Odeon is a complicated building with many surprises and much hidden heritage.

“We have had to balance these challenges with the needs of a modern performance venue, and I believe we have managed to do just that.”

That is just as true with the construction now as it was with the design then. And, despite the challenges that the building continues to present, the venue is still on pace to open late 2022.

Auditorium scaffolding as seen from from the lower circle

Bradford Live is determined to partner with nearby businesses and suppliers – and was pleased to be able to offer the construction contract to a local business.

Purchasing the majority of goods and services from Bradford and West Yorkshire is integral to the venue’s ethos, as Bradford-based companies look to the lead of the Leeds City Region Climate Coalition aiming for a net zero carbon region by 2038.

A recent call for nearby businesses has brought in more than 130 offers of service and products, with the team meeting a range of food and beverage suppliers in September. This, teamed with potential partners in other areas, has brought some very interesting offers from around the city to the table.

Further supplier tenders are also planned for 2022 – again with the focus on local firms. With just over 12 months to go, security, cleaning, AV and engineering contracts are being discussed moving into the spring.

With all of these new opportunities comes a range of new job openings. Along with the 60 temporary jobs and five apprenticeships that RN Wooler have created, the NEC Group will be employing around 20 permanent positions. In addition to this, 30 full-time equivalent roles from catering, stewarding and technical staff will be created to help put on such an array of events. Further apprenticeship positions are being established too, especially within Amadeus, the venue’s caterers.

Speaking to Dan Boulger, Head of NEC Group Partnerships with just over a year to go, excitement is clearly building. He said: “We are almost ready to open up the recruitment process for Bradford Live and we can’t wait. We have been working on this project for over three years and to be at the point where we can start looking for brilliant people to bring the vision to life is a great moment.”

If you think you may fit the bill in helping to bring a word-class live events venue to life, sign up at to hear more about the latest roles available. Signing up here will also give you all the latest construction progress news and notifications of the first events, as well as event enquiries from the end of 2022 onwards.

The venue is also on Twitter as @bradford_live, Instagram as @BradfordLive and at

For information on our hospitality membership scheme, or for any other enquries, please contact