The new Town Hall Symphony Hall website, otherwise known as, was unleashed this week having been put together by Made Media who talk about it on their blog. B:INS also have something to say about it.

Other than the whole pronunciation issue (stick your tongue between your teeth and blow creating the “thhhh”, then quickly pull the tongue back releasing the rest of the air in a descending “sshhhh”) the rebranding does raise an interesting question about how the NEC Group are positioning their venues.

Previously the Symphony Hall was bundled in with the NEC, NIA and ICC on the NEC Group site, mixing it in with the gawdy stadium gigs and trade shows. Without being snobbish it’s all a bit, well, middle of the road.

By moving it into a separate umbrella with the Town Hall they’re able to position themselves as distinct from the NEC behemoth, still accessible but slightly more highbrow and, critically, not just the Classical Place. The range of events coming up at both venues surprises me. Maybe it was always that way but it certainly seems a lot more inclusive and adventurous than I’d expect.

And some of these unexpected bookings make perfect sense when you think about them. Where better to see Devo than the glorious Symphony Hall? And how righteous that Broadcast should perform in Birmingham’s Town Hall?

It might just be branding but, despite my cynicism about the NEC Group in general, I feel like the THSH beast has become a valuable and intrinsic part of the Birmingham venue environment. And that’s a good thing.

(If you missed it before, details of the impressive re-opening festival are here.)


  1. Much as I hate the NEC/NIA experience, Symphony Hall does have some top stuff – I’ve seen Morrissey, Bjork, Ray Davies and even Vic Reeves there – in a great and fairly intimate venue.

    I hope the Town Hall develops slightly differently – the opportunity to have standing gigs should make for a better atmosphere. I’m hoping it’ll become like a smaller and more architecturally pleasing Wolverhampton Civic Hall.

  2. Josh: Hmm. That’s still not exactly clear in my mind but I’m not sure it really matters.

    Bounder: I was thinking more about my impression of the venue, not what it actually does. It now SEEMS a lot more interesting, even if it used to be just as interesting before!

    Amusing aside: the top Google result for THSH is currently the wonderfully named “Tannenbaum Helpern Syracuse & Hirschtritt” law firm. Can I get that on a t-shirt?

  3. The question of ownership interests me. Was Symphony Hall merely ‘managed’ by the NEC group before? I’d always assumed they actually owned it. By similar token, if Performances Birmingham LTD ‘manages and runs’ the two venues then who do they actually belong to? NEC group, the council, or whom? It’s not necessarily going to make a huge difference to me, but the evasive language used definitely leads me to wonder.

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