Million pound gift from local businessman will improve students’ musical education.
The Concert Hall at Birmingham City University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire will be officially renamed The Bradshaw Hall later today, reflecting the University’s enduring gratitude to a million-pound gift from a local entrepreneur.
Dr Keith Bradshaw OBE DL has personally donated £1 million to Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, which will be used to fund strategic priorities at the music and acting college. This will include support for student scholarships, educational outreach with children and young people across the West Midlands region, teaching posts and visiting fellowships.
Aston-born Dr Bradshaw co-founded the Listers car dealership 38 years ago, which has now grown into one of England’s largest independent dealer groups. As well as several high profile business interests, he is also co-owner of Halesowen-based Laney Headstock, which produces a range of musical instruments and sound reinforcement products, and is Chairman of Nurton Developments, a West Midlands-based family property company.
Dr Bradshaw also served as High Sheriff for the West Midlands between 2016 and 2017, making him the Queen’s judicial representative in the county at that time. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Birmingham City University in 2016. He said: “I am a firm believer that, those who can, need to be entrepreneurial with their philanthropy, and giving back needs to create a viable plan that will deliver tangible and sustainable benefits for society as a whole.
“Music creation and performance has always been at the soul of this city and it is humbling to know that the Conservatoire is providing life-changing opportunities for local youngsters at a time when access to music budgets is being cut on all sides. I am therefore delighted that I am able to support the work of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and this commitment will not only attract the best performers and students from around the world to our city, but it will also introduce new audiences to the wonderful array of music genres the Conservatoire offers.
“I hope my gift inspires other philanthropists to follow suit and do the same. It is unfortunate that too many local patrons favour London-based institutions, but I feel that those who have made good here in Birmingham should look closer to home when wanting to give back.”
The naming of the Conservatoire’s performance space in Dr Bradshaw’s honour will be revealed during the inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Recital, which takes place in The Bradshaw Hall this evening.
Speaking ahead of the event, Professor Philip Plowden, Vice-Chancellor, Birmingham City University said: “With the new Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, we were given a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a state-of-the-art music facility for the great performers of tomorrow.
“Keith’s generous gift ensures we can now continue that work well into the future and expand upon current initiatives, providing unique educational opportunities and widening participation to welcome more under-represented groups to study and enjoy music at our University.
“This donation provides further support for our work of introducing more young people to music and musicianship through our outreach programmes across the region. We hope very much that this will provide an excellent foundation for further donations to support this important work and ensuring that music remains something that everyone in our society can celebrate and enjoy.”
The Vice-Chancellor’s Recitals are a series of curated concerts featuring exceptional musicians currently studying at the University’s £57 million Conservatoire. Personally selected by the Vice-Chancellor, the performers featured are all rising starts and competition winners, with the initial event featuring pianists and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, which is based on Jennens Road in Birmingham’s Eastside, houses five public performance spaces and a further 100 practice rooms, recording studios and workshops. It was completed in September 2017 and officially opened earlier this year by HRH The Earl of Wessex on Sunday 11 March.
The 500-seat Bradshaw Hall boasts a moveable stage, is equipped with the latest acoustic treatments and technology, and is used for student concerts and public performances, as well as radio and television broadcasts.Last month, it played host to the Category Finals and Semi-Final of the BBC Young Musician 2018 competition, as well as a performance Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ by the Conservatoire’s Pops Orchestra and narrated by the University’s Chancellor, Sir Lenny Henry.
Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, added: “Keith Bradshaw’s generous donation marks yet another historic occasion in this extraordinary year. At a time when Royal Birmingham Conservatoire does not have the benefit of the additional specialist funding for conservatoire teaching, all of us here are incredibly grateful that Keith’s gift will enable us to further enhance our offer to some of the world’s most talented music students.”