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Save the National Concert Hall of Wales

We are calling on Cardiff Council to protect St David's Hall's status as a renowned provider of classical music.

A petition 'Save the National Concert Hall of Wales' has been signed by over 16,000 people.

Background

Academy Music Group (AMG), which runs venues across the UK, has made a proposal to Cardiff Council to take over running St David's Hall.

The renowned venue on the Hayes in Cardiff city centre is known for its cultural impact, hosting classical music events, including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales who are the Orchestra in Residence at St David's. The hall also provides arts educational training and access for disabled patrons and young people via Arts Active.

Reports have suggested proposals regarding St David's centre around the need to address a 'maintenance backlog'. Cardiff Council has stated that it is 'investigating options' regarding the hall's future, with any decision due to go to council cabinet on 15 December.

A petition signed by over 16,000 people has expressed concerns regarding the future of St David's, including the potential loss of a culturally significant venue, a reduction in the cultural and classical output, and the potential for job losses for the staff and musicians at St David's.

The petition text suggests 'AMG may seek to reduce the cultural and classical output of St David's Hall' and warned 'potential buyers may seek to undertake large scale structural alterations to the building which is in the process of becoming a listed building, including but not limited to extensive retrofitting to enable a large standing audience.'

The petitioner goes on to warn that 'this would invoke the removal of the stalls seating, and structural alterations to the auditorium which have the potential to negatively effect the acoustics of one of the top 10 concert halls in the world - a jewel in the crown of this capital city.'

The petition also outlines the of potential insecurity for some employees, warning that some 'stand to have no protections through TUPE if the building is transferred and potentially stand to lose our continued employment.'

We are clear that St David's Hall, including its staff, cultural output and role as a leading provider of classical music in Wales, must be protected.

We also believe that Arts Active and their programme of arts education for young people must be maintained as must flagship events including the festival of remembrance, Cardiff Singer of the World, the international concert series, the Welsh Proms and the annual Cardiff University graduations.

We will continue to campaign on behalf of St David's, calling for its cultural output and status as a renowned international venue of classical music to be protected.

Reaction to the news

ISM Council members have responded to the news:

'St David’s Hall celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. As the National Concert Hall of Wales, it is home to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, which has been broadcast worldwide on television since its inception in 1983 and is acknowledged to be the finest competition of its kind. In 2016 the hall was hailed as one of the 10 best-sounding concert halls in the world, however Cardiff Council’s proposed sale of the hall to a pop concerts promoter threatens its acoustics and future classical music provision. The buyer proposes to reduce the number of classical music concerts and to remove the acoustically-designed stall seats in order to provide standing room at pop concerts. Such a move would effect the whole classical musical world as Wales does not have another comparable concert hall to attract the world’s major orchestras.'

- Jeremy Huw Williams, Welsh Baritone

'St David’s Hall has been the National Concert Hall of Wales since it opened in the early 1980s, indeed it remains the only concert hall able to host activity of its scale in the whole of Wales – with an acoustic that’s acknowledged as among the finest in the world. The proposal to hand the venue on to Live Nation is deeply concerning, and is likely to threaten opportunities for audiences to access world class music (classical, folk, rock) alongside family shows, Welsh language work, invaluable community events and an extensive education programme. We urge Cardiff Council to pause this decision and to take in views and evidence from the broader sector and community.'

- Deborah Keyser, Director of Tŷ Cerdd – Music Centre Wales

Cardiff Council has stated:

'Cardiff Council can confirm it has received a proposal from Academy Music Group (AMG), regarding St David’s Hall. The council is currently considering this proposal and a report is scheduled to be brought to Cabinet in December. No decision has yet been taken. There is undeniably a need to secure investment into St David’s Hall, but safeguarding jobs at the venue and retaining its status as the National Concert Hall of Wales, with access to the Classical symphonic repertoire, would be an absolute imperative for the administration, under any proposal. The council knows the importance of St David’s Hall to classical music lovers and the proposal does protect the main classical programme, community events, and includes opportunities for these to be extended.'