Plymouth’s £7.6 million 360 immersive dome and market hall turns 1 year old with an impressive 628 shows, over 15,000 attendees, 5,000 members and an RTPI win

Plymouth’s £7.6million Grade II listed Market Hall and 360 degree immersive dome celebrates its first birthday today, announcing an impressive set of success statistics within a short 12 months.

The brainchild of Real Ideas Organisation, Market Hall is home to the spectacular immersive dome, which is the first of its type – 15m diameter, 210 degrees over the top, with a flat floor – in Europe. The only other like it in the world can be found at SAT in Montreal, Canada.

Across its first 12 months enriching cultural experiences and immersive opportunities have boosted mental wellbeing and created pride of place. Market Hall has been successful in providing a creative and collaborative workspace which the 4,000 members of Real Ideas can access, with ongoing learning opportunities, workshops, expansive meeting rooms, event spaces, a production suite and a café dishing up nutritious brunch and lunch options and barista-grounded coffee.

And just last week, the distinctive and innovative space was awarded the top Chair’s Prize in the South West Planning Excellence 2022 awards, by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), as well as receiving a highly commended recognition in the awards for Best Project.

The awards celebrate and recognise how planning has a positive impact by creating exceptional places and protecting the environment. Market Hall impressed the judges with its sympathetic restoration and contribution to regeneration for the Devonport area of Plymouth.

Topline numbers and statistics for the Market Hall and immersive dome include a total of 628 events, almost 500 of those being immersive dome shows, films or experiences.  These have included the Immerse Yourself: Space season where visitors could tour the International Space Station with Tim Peake, Sea Monsters – A prehistoric adventure, Seeds for Plymouth: an immersive wildflower experience and the Moths to a Flame interactive dome experience.

Over 11,000 tickets have been sold for Dome screenings and nearly 15,000 tickets for events in the full Market Hall at large.  The impressive venue has also played host to renowned events such as Full Dome UK, Spatial Sound, the Tech South West Awards and the Bills Attic Launch Event.  Hundreds of schoolchildren have attended events and screenings and after school and junior tech clubs have been in strong demand across the year. 

16 immersive artists have been supported to make new and showcasing work and 4,729 Real Ideas currently members have had access to the facilities at the venue via their membership of the organisation. 

Lindsey Hall, Chief Executive of Real Ideas said: “Our aim with Market Hall was to create a gamechanger, a pioneer, in turn, putting Plymouth and the South West of England on the map internationally as a place with an epic emerging tech cluster around immersive and creative digital. Without a doubt it has been our most audacious project to date. But we are all collectively delighted to hear and reveal our success figures in just 12 months.  And behind the figures for tickets sales, jobs, research, development, exploration, learning, collaboration, artist support, economic development, and secondary economic benefits, are the real emotional benefits to the people who work here, and who come here.”

Lindsey continues, “One of our key aims is to make ‘creative collisions’ occur here every day.  And you only have to hang around here for a very short space of time, it happens right in front of your eyes.  We have students from City College working and studying here, the team from the Argyle Community Trust, a number of creative production and communications companies and all manner of freelancers, as well as our own extended team.  It’s a joy to behold.”

Our aim was always to make this a place for our extended Plymouth, and surrounding Devon and Cornwall, communities to connect, gather and share new experiences.  Everyone here has worked terrifically hard this year, but it has all been more than worthwhile.”

Developed in partnership with Plymouth City Council and the Institute of Digital Art and Technology at the University of Plymouth, the Market Hall, in the Devonport area of the city, will create a new space for the local community. The project has been supported with funding from Arts Council England, the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, ERDF, and the Unlocking Growth Fund administered by Heart of the South West LEP. All of this is new investment into Plymouth from national and European sources which is anticipated to have a significant impact.