Wales Millennium Centre Hurts Bottom Line of Cardiff's Two Older Venues

Classic Arts News   Wales Millennium Centre Hurts Bottom Line of Cardiff's Two Older Venues
Cardiff's St. David's Hall and New Theatre have reported huge financial losses following the opening of the Wales Millennium Centre, a Ô£106 million performing arts venue on Cardiff Bay that opened in November 2004, reports the South Wales Echo.

The New Theatre, which currently presents plays and musicals, was the home base of Welsh National Opera before the opening of the Millennium Centre; St. David's Hall is the city's main concert venue. The two halls, which are managed together by the Welsh capital's municipal government, ran up losses totaling Ô£5.2 million in the 2005-06 fiscal year, up almost Ô£900,000 from the previous year. Both venues are expected to lose an extra Ô£283,000 in 2006-07, according to the paper.

To avoid burdening local taxpayers, the Cardiff city council is hoping to find a private company to run both venues.

Nigel Howells, the council's executive member for the arts, told the Echo that the plan does not imply "privatization by the back door," adding that the council would always retain authority over programming decisions.

Cardiff Council has now advertised in the European Journal, inviting offers from private companies interested in operating and maintaining the two complexes, according to the paper.

John Sheppard, the opposition Labour Party's finance spokesman on the council, implied bad faith on the part of the majority Liberal Democrats, telling the Echo, "This is driven by the financial mess the council is in and not by the desire to retain these cultural facilities which are so important to the vibrancy of life in Cardiff."

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