Exterior of venue (c.2010)
|Full name||O2 Institute Birmingham|
|Former names||Digbeth Institute (1908-55; 1990-98)|
Digbeth Civic Hall (1955-90)
The Sanctuary (1998-2008)
HMV Institute (2010-15)
|Address||78 Digbeth High St|
Birmingham B5 6DY
|Owner||Academy Music Group|
|Capacity||2,000 (O2 Institute)|
600 (O2 Institute2)
250 (O2 Institute3)
|Opened||16 January 1908|
|Renovated||1957, 1985, 1997, 2008-10|
The O2 Institute (originally known as the Digbeth Institute) is a music venue located in Birmingham, England. The venue opened in 1908 as a mission of Carrs Lane Congregational Church. It has also served as an event centre, civic building and nightclub.
It has three main rooms: the 2000-capacity main auditorium called "The Institute" which has a seated upper balcony, the downstairs room which holds up to 600 people called "O2 Institute2" (formerly "The Library") and the 250-capacity upstairs room "O2 Institute3" (formerly "The Temple").
The venue also houses "Un-Plug", an intimate club with a capacity of 400, located in the building's cellar. The space formerly operated as the "Midland Jazz Club", "Jug 'O Punch Folk Club", Dance Factory and "Barfly".
Designed by Arthur Harrison, it was officially opened 16 January 1908 by the wife of the Pastor of Carrs Lane Church, John Henry Jowett, as an institutional church associated with Carr's Lane Congregational Church. In the week that followed, it hosted a variety of acts. The area which surrounded it was predominantly slums and industrial buildings.
In 1954, the building was put up for sale by the trustees as they felt the building was not needed for its originally intended use. It was bought by Birmingham City Council in 1955 for £65,000 and was used as a civic hall. People known to have made speeches at the Digbeth Institute include Neville Chamberlain, Henry Usborne, Florence L. Barclay and Herbert Hensley Henson. The Church relocated to Yardley as Digbeth-in-the-Field Congregational Church.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s it housed the Midland Jazz club. In 1987, the building was used as a film studio by the Birmingham Film and Video Workshop for the Channel 4 film 'Out of Order'. The venue also played a part as one of the main locations in the feature film 'Lycanthropy', filmed in 2005-06.
In the 1985 and 1997, the venue was refurbished. In 1998, "The Sanctuary" opened, which was to be the original home of the Cambridge/Northampton born club night event Godskitchen. It also played host to other events such as: Atomic Jam, Uproar, Slinky, Sundissential, Athletico, Ramshackle, Insurrection, Inukshuk and Panic.
In 2005, Channelfly Company bought the downstairs "cellar" room, and turned it into the Birmingham Barfly. This 400 capacity venue was host to touring bands and local bands. The MAMA Group acquired Channelfly as a subsidiary in 2006.
In 2008, the MAMA Group took over the lease of the whole building. Work was started on renovating the building, especially the historic features. The work was due to be finished in September 2009 (but was not completed until March 2010). In January 2009, HMV bought a 9.9% stake in The MAMA Group (by taking 50% of the Mean Fiddler). In January 2010 HMV bought the remaining percentage of the MAMA group for £46 million.
In December 2012, HMV sold its assets to Lloyds Development Capital (LDC) for under £8 million. In 2015, the venue was acquired by Live Nation, and re-branded as O2 Institute Birmingham, as part of the O2 Academy Group.
The exterior is a mixture of red brick and grey terracotta. The grey terracotta forms the more ornate features of the façade including the three towers, the 1.65-metre tall allegorical figures and the window and door frames. The six allegorical figures are believed to be the work of John Evans, the chief modeller for Gibbs & Canning. Two hold open books and two have musical instruments (a third's instrument is lost). The final figure holds a purse, representing public charity. The drawings of the building by Arthur Harrison do not include the figures, indicating that these were probably added in 1909. The building is Grade B locally listed.