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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
2m relaunch for national pop centre
pop music centre
The centre's design is striking
A 15m centre devoted to pop music is being relaunched after it closed down through lack of visitors.

The National Centre for Popular Music (NCPM) has unveiled a 2m redevelopment plan that will bring concerts and exhibitions to the eye-catching complex in Sheffield.

London-based promoters Barfly - who helped raise the profile of acts such as Coldplay, Supergrass and Feeder - are setting up a new venue at the centre.

Exhibitions charting the history and development of pop will also return.

The next few months are going to be very exciting in terms of redevelopment

Matthew Conduit, development director of NCPM
Matthew Conduit, development director of NCPM, said: "The next few months are going to be very exciting in terms of redevelopment.

"However we want the elements to be put in place stage-by-stage and it could be 2003 before the redevelopment it finally completed."

The centre, designed by architects Branson Coates and clad in shiny metal, opened in a blaze of publicity in March 1999.

It ambitiously predicted about 300,000 visitors a year would stream through the doors to try out its hands-on exhibits.

'White elephant'

However, only about 110,000 came in its first year and the exhibition space was shut down in July 2000.

Critics claimed the project - which received 11m from the National Lottery - had become a "white elephant".

The centre currently acts as a venue for local pop bands but now Mr Conduit hopes it can be re-launched.

He has examined feedback from people who visited the complex and believes there is a clearer picture of what fans want from the site.

"What we have found is that people want to experience live music and young people want us to be at the cutting edge.

Exhibitions return

"Visitors also want to be able to be involved in the production of music."

As well as bringing in Barfly to create a regular music venue, the first stage of the redevelopment will also include a 600,000 community media centre which will give people the chance to learn more about making records.

In the future, the centre will also bring in the type of exhibits that were first aired when the centre opened.

Mr Conduit said: "The exhibitions were very good for children but they didn't offer much for adults.

"One of the most popular features was the chance to mix a pop video of Phil Collins.

More choice

"However most young people now do not listen to Phil Collins - we hope to re-launch the idea as Sound Lab which will offer a greater choice of music and be far more sophisticated.

"We will also have exhibitions that will change so that we can keep attracting fresh visitors."

Martin Manning, chairman of the NCPM board, said: "A major criticism of the original NCPM was the lack of live music and we have spent more than a year searching for the right partner to help put this right.

"This deal, along the educational attributes of the new community media centre is very exciting."

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See also:

02 Nov 99 | Entertainment
Pop museum saved
18 Oct 99 | Entertainment
Debts rock pop museum
26 Feb 99 | Entertainment
Sheffield steels itself for pop centre
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