Viseu will have the largest venue in central Portugal. Why? What for?
Creating Viseu Arena is much more than - or is not at all - a hardware project.
Creating in Viseu the largest theatre of Centro de Portugal region is part of a strategy. A regional development strategy or, in other words, the creation of a cultural and tourist brand of excellence. In this sense, we are talking more about software or brainware.
This infrastructure is a condition of context, an instrument, not an end in itself. Furthermore, in this case it is a requalification, restyling and technical upgrade of a pre-existing infrastructure: the city's multipurpose pavilion, built in 2003.
This is all the more important, however, as it fills a regional gap: in the centre of the country there is no large, licensed, multi-purpose showroom for more than 1000 people. On the other hand, Viseu is today experiencing a cultural growth and a rediscovery of tourism that is not compatible with the lack of this type of equipment.
The project is therefore not driven by a building obsession. What moves this partnership between the Municipality, Viseu Marca (the city's territorial marketing association) and the Arena society, are objectives of cultural decentralisation in the country, including Viseu in the national and Iberian itinerary of shows offer, strengthening the tourist attractiveness of the city-region and promotion of creative and cultural industries.
The project also values and takes advantage of Viseu's strategic location in the country and the Peninsula and its connectivity network, its relevant demographic dimension, its historical and heritage status, as well as its human, creative and artistic ecosystem.
In fact, Viseu is today a historical city with 2500 years, previous to the very founding of the Portuguese nationality, and the most important Interior county in the country (or outside the Braga – Setúbal route), with 100 thousand inhabitants. It is also a reference in its standard of quality of life, bearing the"Best City to Live" seal. In addition, it has a stock of extraordinary heritage, rural and natural resources, and very promising entrepreneurial, creative and cultural skills.
Finally, the city's geographical centrality, its proximity to Porto and its privileged connections, less than an hour or two away, from a constellation of cities like Aveiro, Guarda, Lamego, Vila Real, Chaves, Coimbra, Leiria, Fatima, but also Salamanca and Ciudad Rodrigo, make Viseu a destination with a potential attraction for a target population of well over five million inhabitants and tourists.
It is in this context of opportunity - highlighted by the evident saturation of the main national tourist destinations - that "Viseu Arena" project arises, conceived by a new generation mayor, Almeida Henriques, the current mayor of Viseu.
With its opening scheduled for the end of 2018, this will be the largest theatre and multipurpose venue in the centre of Portugal, with a capacity of over 5500 people and an arena of 2500 square metres. Compared to initial estimates, the room's capacity for a standing audience increases by more than 1,500 seats.
In architect Moisés Rosa (Arena Atlântico team member)'s reconversion and requalification project, it was tried to safeguard the equipment's flexibility for all types and scales of events - that is, a truly multipurpose vocation, as well as a high quality in hospitality and public comfort, acoustics, aesthetics, functionality and safety. The economic sustainability of the project and its superior quality are seen as mandatory for its success.
The crucial involvement of Sociedade Arena Atlântico, with a high level of management and operation with this type of equipment know-how, also contributes to this strategy of sustainability. Its participation is focused not only on the venue's requalification project, but also on the design of the business model and support to Viseu Marca (the future local manager) in the marketing strategy and future commercial promotion.
Some of the new features include screens and a light curtain on the building's facade, promoting a dialogue with the city, the creation of new public areas (a suspended tribune, 14 cabins and 680 premium seats), 5 bars and a panoramic lounge over the city oriented for catering and premium events.
Putting aside a certain typical Portuguese modesty, I have no doubt that Viseu is now becoming a very interesting case study regarding sustainable cultural tourism and territorial marketing. A marketing and tourism strategy that, aimed at attracting audiences, visitors and activities, chooses the community itself and its identity as the main differentiation factor.
In this strategy the powerful combination of attributes, experiences and city imaginary stand out - diverse, but well positioned.
In this mix, there are simultaneously the "city of Viriato" and its strong material and immaterial patrimonial charm, the "garden city" that simultaneously expresses urban aesthetic and ethics, the "wine town" of Dão, the secular São Mateus Fair (which consolidated its revitalisation in 2017) and an almost non stop calendar of diversified cultural offer.
The thread that unites this multidimensionality is a real promise of happiness. Today we know that you do not have to go far to have an unforgettable experience.
Jorge Sobrado, Viseu Brand Manager
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