I absolutely understand the concerns raised about the future of St David’s Hall and I have met with Cardiff Council to discuss them further.
The Council’s financial outlook is bleak. 12 years of UK Government austerity and pressures have left the Council with a £23.5m gap in its budget. Despite the Council already investing over £2.5m in maintaining the Hall and providing annual subsidies of £1m, the building has grown older and the level of maintenance has become unsustainable. The Council’s absolute priority is to secure the future of St David’s Hall and wants to hear your views on new, sustainable ways of operating.
The Council has absolutely no plans to sell the Hall. It is proposing a lease to Academy Music Group (AMG), ensuring that the classical programme continues, community access is maintained and the acoustic integrity of the building is protected. AMG would take on full responsibility for upgrading the venue and maintenance, removing the need for the Council to provide further subsidies.
Consideration of the offer has been on the firm commitment from AMG to enhance the venue’s reputation as the National Concert Hall of Wales, alongside the introduction of their Academy music venue format, by continuing to maintain and develop the classical music programme.
- Protect the classical and community programme by providing a set number of days where events can be programmed, covering all the key classical events such as BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the orchestra of the Welsh National Opera, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, all of the International Concert Series, the Welsh Proms, BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, and local and national youth ensembles.
- Allocate 60 days annually during the peak period from Sept to May. There is currently an average of 58 days.
- Guarantee the Welsh Proms, the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition and an annual National Youth Orchestra concert that take place in the off-peak period.
- On a year when the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition is staged in Cardiff, which takes up a total of 14 days, this will equate to a total of 90 reserved dates and, on the alternate years, 80 days.
- Commitment to working with the Arts Active Trust by providing continuing access to the venue.
- Investment in the venue to allow for removable seats enabling provision of a standing area for a wide range of music events. Acoustic engineers have confirmed there will be no noticeable impact on acoustic quality at St David’s Hall as a result.
- Any proposed changes to the property would require sign off from the Council as the landlord, but the removable seats are the only ‘structural’ change that AMG has proposed to make.
- Commitment to maintain the venue’s key musical instruments, including the five Steinway pianos and the St David’s Hall organ.
Securing a sustainable future for the National Concert Hall of Wales, safeguarding jobs and protecting its world-class classical music and community programme is an absolute imperative for the Council.
For more details on the proposals and the process, please see these sources published online here:
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