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A new house for the future

The building of a new house on the Grieghallen site brings the possibility of building a new creative hub for the future.

Let´s be clear, Bergen´s new house will be for everyone – it will be an åpen port - a place where people make art, discuss art and culture, which – above all – brings people together: artists, audience, community, youth and kids. We want it to feel conspicuously different – in contrast to Grieghallen´s spectacular modernism, let´s create a building that also welcomes intimacy: lots of conversation areas, listening corners… I´d like to think that whatever brings you to Bergen´s new house, you´ll know that when you enter you´ll find a community of artists and audience engaging with smart ideas and thought-provoking work.

So we hope that this will be Bergen´s home for adventurous artists, audiences and ideas.

Bergen´s new house will not be just for ‘classical’ art and for preserving the art of the past in a museum. This house is for the future – we need some sparky youthful minds to discuss it, and to evangelise for the project: people who can say “I want to be here – build it soon!

For Bergen National Opera, the possibilities are enormous. Make no mistake, Grieghallen has provided a great home for us as a young company to establish our mainstage work and to learn a great deal about how to present exciting, inspiring and theatrical storytelling through dramatic music.

But the Grieghallen stage is huge, and the auditorium, as we all know, is far from ideal for opera – a large amphi-shape, with back rows very far from the stage. The new house will offer far more flexibility in terms of our repertoire choices. It will have a smaller stage, a horse-shoe auditorium shape with balconies which mean that everyone has the possibility of an intimate connection to the stage, a great acoustical experience, and clear sightlines to the whole. We´ll also have custom designed resources, critical rehearsal space, some workshop space. And because of all this, it will also open up fresh possibilities in terms of building further co-productions around Europe.

Overall, there´s a fantastic opportunity to create an atmosphere which banishes the whole snobbery which can cling to buildings attached to ‘classical’ music, and also throws to the wind the perception that culture houses are sometimes thought of as traditional.

I´ve just mentioned tradition – for sure the past always informs the future – but perhaps this is what is so exciting about expanding a Griegkvartalet. We can build a physical space where the past quite literally is inspiring something new, with a building which will reflect and explore the development of culture for a new century and beyond.

Mary Miller

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