Wales confirms plan to dump St David’s Hall

Wales confirms plan to dump St David’s Hall


norman lebrecht

November 21, 2022

As we reported yesterday, Cardiff City Council is trying to get rid of running the national concert hall by handing it over to a group that manages major pop events.

Wales Online reports today:

A major music group has made a proposal to Cardiff council regarding taking on the running of cultural venue St David’s Hall, it has been confirmed. Academy Music Group (AMG) operates the O2 Academies, which have a huge number of venues across the UK, including in London and Scotland. St David’s Hall in The Hayes in the centre of the capital celebrated its 40th anniversary this year having hosted world-renowned orchestras, the Welsh Proms, and Welsh Baftas over the years.

AMG, which has a track record of taking on heritage buildings and running them as entertainment venues, has approached Cardiff council with a proposal and talks are believed to be at an early stage with the proposal being reviewed. It’s understood that fears any agreement could lead to the loss of the venue as a site of events like opera, ballet, or classical music are unfounded and seating would remain in place in some form – potentially with seating that can be removed as and when needed for specific shows or events.


  • SVM says:

    Whilst the potential for the seating arrangements to be changed may be relevant, the key issue is whether it is financially viable for promoters of classical music to mount events at the venue. I cannot speak for Cardiff, but I know that in London, a major barrier to mounting classical concerts is the enormous cost of venue hire. In general, classical music is not a particularly lucrative business, and most classical events would never be able to compete financially against hires for private corporate events and pop music. So, any arrangement to transfer management/franchise/lease should include iranclad guarantees that ringfence a minimum number of sessions for /bona fide/ classical concerts, opera productions, and associated rehearsals, in line with current usage, ensuring that these sessions include plenty of premium slots (e.g.: Friday and Saturday evenings). There should be severe penalties (up to and including rescission of the management/franchise/lease arrangement) in the event that these quotas for classical events fail to be met for any reason, including, for avoidance of doubt, the hall going empty (this safeguard is important to prevent any new management from making the hire fees so high that classical promoters cannot afford to use the hall — by making it a requirement for classical events to take place, as opposed to just having some reserved slot that could go unused, the management will be under pressure to ensure that their hiring structure is affordable, rather than creating a pretext to remove a restrictive covenant “due to lack of demand”).

    • Ellie says:

      Spot on. Where I work, we get ACE funding and are a registered charity. We put on comedy and rock/pop music gigs alongside RPO/LPO etc. Classical gigs make us a £2k loss a time despite pretty good ticket sales and ‘mainstream’ programmes (Eroica, etc etc). We’ll take £2k on the bars as gross sales (actual profit = maybe 1/3 of this). So, we make a loss on classical events every time.

      Comparatively, a well-sold contemporary music standing gig takes £12k on bars and makes £8k net profit for the venue from ticket sales/ venue hire.

      It’s a no brainer- if St Davids Hall is commercially run, they will not run loss-making events. We can do it as there’s funding in place and it’s part of our charity mission. If we were profit-oriented, of course, we wouldn’t.

  • Kenneth Griffin says:

    Ben Herrington has started a petition to “Save the National Concert Hall of Wales”.

    The petition gives substantial background and detail re this AMG proposal.

    It can be found by googling “petition st david’s hall”.

  • MacroV says:

    Would BBCNOW not remain the primary tenant under any new arrangement?

  • Andrew says:

    I would focus less on the Council ‘dumping’ St David’s Hall, but on the possibility that another organisation may be able to do a better job running the place as a venue. Until they’ve tried, don’t dig the ground from under their feet. If they try and fail, then, by all means hold them to task.

  • Player says:

    “…fears any agreement could lead to the loss of the venue as a site of events like opera, ballet, or classical music are unfounded and seating would remain in place in some form…”

    So, not unfounded then.

  • Dr William A Evans says:

    Much of the seating at St David’s Hall is in the ‘tier format’, with seating blocks arranged at different levels around the auditorium, assisting in the excellent acoustic. The only ‘moveable’ seating, to my mind, might be in the raked stalls area – unless AMG intends extensive remodelling of the Hall’s interior or to close the tiers for non-classical events; the latter would appear an uneconomic strategy, as around half the seating is in the tiers.

  • Karden says:

    This is now 2 formal postings about the concert hall in a part of the UK. St David’s is important (if only at least acoustically—it’s good) and deserves to be talked about. But the NY Phil’s David Geffen Hall is important too.

    I respect that is based in London/UK, so its concerns and interests will be different from those of a blog based in the US, whether NYC or otherwise. But, again, Geffen Hall (recently rebuilt and re-opened) at NYC’s Lincoln Center is important and interesting too. Reports and reviews of the hall are now days/weeks old, so it’s yesterday’s news and won’t be on SD’s “now trending” radar. But the oversight remains puzzling.

    • MWnyc says:

      Slipped Disc has had several posts about David Geffen Hall since it has reopened.

      • Karden says:

        Postings die fairly quickly at So if anyone is still bothering to read this thread (and noticing how many thumbs down my comment has gotten—for reasons that that are as puzzling to me as SD largely ignoring the topic of the revamped Geffen Hall) I’ll ask if you can link to the posts you’re describing. Maybe you’re correct, but for the past several weeks I sure as heck haven’t come across them.