Queen's Hall Arts (QHA) is the charitable company that manages the venue, Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, Hexham and provides an art service to a large part of rural Northumberland.
The Queen’s Hall is a magnificent early Victorian building which faces Hexham Abbey (dating from 647AD). From its christening as an arts centre in 1983 until the hand over to the charitable organisation, Queens Hall Arts in 2001, the building was under local authority control. The building is shared with Hexham Library and the Little Angel Café, both tenants of Queens Hall Arts.
Queen’s Hall Arts Centre boasts a 350-seat theatre and two galleries all managed by Queens Hall Arts.
QHAC has established itself as a strong base for an extensive range of artistic activity, attracting the best international and national artists from music, drama, dance and national touring comedy to non professional shows put on by local community groups.
In addition to programming within the building, QHA delivers an extensive outreach service bringing workshops and performances to communities throughout Northumberland.
Box Office opening hours are 10.00am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday and 10.00am - 4.00pm Saturday plus one hour prior to a performance.
QHA receives regular financial support from Northumberland County Council and Arts Council England.
Queen's Hall - 150 Year History
The Queen’s Hall (and more generally Beaumont Street) was developed in a Victorian era of expansion and optimism for both private and public life. In 1857 the Corn Exchange Company was formed with an ambition to build a permanent home for weekly agricultural markets and fairs in a building housing a mixture of private and public activity - offices in the north wing, the Corn Exchange in the centre and the Town Hall in the south wing. It opened on 13th September 1866 for a total cost of £8,000.
Between 1866 and 1917 the Queen’s Hall played host to balls, concerts and recitals, and a music hall. The Corn Exchange itself, however, became less used as the agricultural economy hit hard times and the building was used more as a lettings space – private parties, exhibitions and indoor sports activities. In 1917 beset by financial difficulties, the Corn Exchange Company closed the building. In 1921 The Hexham Entertainments Company, formed by Thomas Herbert Scott, bought the building and transformed the south wing into the 650-seat Queen’s Cinema.
Three years later the Corn Exchange became the Queen’s Hall ballroom, with a dance floor known for its 1,000 springs. As well as regular Saturday evening dances the ballroom hosted major events in the social calendar of the time such as the Hunt Ball with attendances often reaching the 900-person capacity. The business prospered and even significant damage to the cinema in a fire in February 1931 was quickly dealt with (creating the current art deco features).
After the Second World War the business became less viable. Competition from TV caused a decline in cinema audiences and a lack of reinvestment into the building saw the facility deteriorating. In the 1960s the cinema was converted into a bingo hall that ran until the mid 70’s, by which time the building was in an advance state of decay. In 1975 Northumberland County Council and Tynedale District Council jointly purchased the building for development, opening in stages from 1981-1983. The configuration was very much as it is today with the theatre in the south wing, library in the central exchange and a café and mixed office usage in the north wing.
As part of a general trend in local authority devolution, Queen’s Hall Arts acquired a 99 year lease on the building in 2001 and set about making the building fit for the 21st Century. In 2003 the reception areas were opened out to create spacious rooms and gallery spaces with improved accessibility. In 2004 the theatre was renovated and re-seated. In 2008 the north wing was developed and spaces restored to their original proportions to be let out to creative businesses.