Saffron Hall Turns Five

  • South East
  • dance, music, theatre
  • Saffron Hall


In just five years Saffron Hall has created a ground-breaking model of world-class performing arts and educational provision at the heart of its community.

When Saffron Hall opened five years ago it made headlines, not just for its great acoustic and state of the art facilities but for the way it was funded.

One single local resident donated over £10m to build the 740-seat, state-of-the art concert hall, the largest ever private donation to a British state school. He was motivated by his dismay at the level of musical and cultural education in state schools generally and the reluctance in the UK for individuals to donate to the state sector. Crucial to the vision was to bring inspiring world-class facilities to a region, outside London, which had no comparable high-quality arts provision.

By creating a new model of arts philanthropy, the donor hoped to start a debate about individual charitable giving in state schools, as well as providing a world-class facility at a state school that would impact on all areas of the school’s activities and those of many primary and other secondary schools in the region.

Saffron Hall has proved that making and listening to music is a powerful way for communities to connect and engage in shared activities. These have ranged from regular visits to the Hall from leading international orchestras and soloists, performances by local amateur groups (including Saffron Opera Group’s epic Wagner Ring Cycle) and a ground-breaking community and education programme that involves all age groups and demographics from under 5s to those with dementia and their carers.

As part of its fifth birthday celebrations, Saffron Hall held a Gala Dinner on 1 December 2018 that reflected the range of its activities. Featuring star violinist Nicola Benedetti, a regular performer and leader of educational initiatives at the Hall, the evening was an expression of how vital a change the Hall has made to its community. Nicola performed at the dinner with members of Britten Sinfonia, Saffron Hall’s Resident Orchestra. 

Watch our Fifth Birthday Video here