Worst news: Wales to dump its premier concert hall

Worst news: Wales to dump its premier concert hall


norman lebrecht

November 20, 2022

Cardiff City Council is proposing to give up responsibility for St David’s Hall, the nationa’s premier concert hall. The likeliest bidder for the franchise is AMG/Live Nation, a pop concerts promoter.

St David’s, built in 1982 and with an excellent acoustic, has 2,000 seats and an intimate atmosphere (I have spoken from the stage to a full house without a microphone). St David’s is the home base of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, which will have no other suitable venue, also of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. Wales is about to lose a national asset, built with public money.

Although one understands the need for Crdiff Council to focus on core activities, the hall is no drain on its resources and, after subsidy, returns a small profit – not to mention immeasurable collateral benefits to the economy of the Welsh capital. Its privatisation will further weaken Welsh National Opera, already maimed by loss of Arts Council England subsidy.

Without St David’s, why would one ever visit Cardiff again.

To join the protest, sign here.


  • pjl says:

    One would still visit Cardiff again for WNO in their great theatre where ticket prices are very reasonable and to hear the BBCNOW in their own smaller Hoddinott Hall about 350 seats for rarer music in BBC broadcasts. And for the great art gallery with its magnificent collection of Impressionist paintings. A private promoter might still programme some classical concerts of course. But, yes, of course it is a horrible sign of the times that a major hall is under threat like this.

  • Emil says:

    Off the top of my head, I can think of 1) a energy costs spike and 2) a crunch in government budgets that make selling the Hall a potentially necessary course of action for the Welsh Assembly. Both, incidentally, caused the the Tory government’s systematic destruction of everything that stands in Britain.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Obviously not up to date Norman.

    WNO has lived and performed at the Wales Milennium Centre since it opened.
    Prior to then they appeared at the New Theatre which hosts visiting companies.
    Then there’s the very active producing theatres. the Sherman and Chapter Arts.
    Let’s not forget the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama housing the Richard Burton theatre for their drama students to perform for the public and the Dora Stoutzker Hall, for music and opera students and visiting performers.

  • Sonicsinfonia says:

    Ah yes, philistinic local government doing what it does best: destroying anything that might conceivably be accused of elitism. Did so well for Fairfield Halls, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabth Hall, Purcell Room. Much less sign of arts and culture there now.

    • Karden says:

      Keep in mind the overriding political needs and social-cultural preferences of people at the local city/urban level not necessarily being in alignment with people at the national level. Visa versa too. Things like the RFH very much reflect the influence of people based in today’s “woke” London.

  • Kenneth Griffin says:

    A more hinged report (11 Nov) of this AMG proposal may be found by googling “Wales Online AMG St David’s Hall”.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    If Britain is rushing headlong toward the American model of fine arts (private funding as the major support), then one must hope that a Maecenas will step forward to insure a musical future for St. David’s Hall … and who knows how many other institutions in the UK. Is there an alternative?

  • Mark says:

    BBC NOW programming has been pretty boring in recent years. Even before COVID lockdown ..oh for the days when it had inspirational music directors

    • Backrowbass says:

      Boring programming? – Liebermann, Fazil Say, Schmidt, Watkins, Ligeti, Boulanger, Grace Williams, Fabian Waksman – and that’s all before Christmas!