Theatre in Wales

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Cardiff's City of Culture bid comes under attack     

Cardiff's bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2008 has come under fire from the council's own consultants.
Their report, obtained by BBC Wales's investigative programme Week In Week Out, details a number of serious weaknesses in the city's cultural life, including the lack of a modern Welsh art gallery.

The consultants - McCann, Matthews, Millman - highlight the absence of a cultural strategy and say that Cardiff is late planning its bid, while other competitor cities are well advanced with theirs.

One city from the UK will be chosen to hold the sought-after European title, which can help boost local business, tourism and the arts.

Other applications to host the year-long celebration include a joint bid from Newcastle and Gateshead, and separate bids from Liverpool and Bradford.

In their report, the consultants said: "If Cardiff is to submit a credible bid, let alone one capable of winning the ultimate prize, time is of the essence."

Lord Mayor Russell Goodway will tell the programme on Tuesday that the Welsh capital could make a very serious challenge, because of its investment in sporting facilities and festivals of music, theatre and art.

But he did admit :"There is a gap - we have to become more serious about the arts and the way that they are managed'.

<blockquote>If Cardiff is to submit a credible bid, let alone one capable of winning the ultimate prize, time is of the essence </blockquote>

In the programme, several experts will also raise concerns about the future of the proposed Wales Millennium Centre, new home of the Welsh National Opera and lynchpin of the capital's culture bid.

The investigation team has obtained the confidential business plan, which shows that a major part of its income is based on filling 70% of the theatre's seats for 300 performances a year.

Of these, 173 will be major shows and musicals.

But Ana Gaio, a leading arts market analyst at London's City University, said putting on such a high number of high-profile performances was a tall order and a cause for concern.

The WMC's new chairman, Sir David Rowe-Beddoe, denied that the plans were too ambitious, even though he admitted that the number of musicals available had been dropping in the past year.

He said the business plan was a 'living document'.

He said that by the time it was discussed by the Welsh Assembly's Culture Committee in a few weeks time the WMC would have "identified some of the hard spots and some of the soft spots of the plan and then address them."

The National Assembly's Finance Minister Edwina Hart has already identified the need for an annual subsidy of £2m to help pay for the WMC's running costs.


However, there is concern that if the business plan is overly-ambitious, yet more public money will be needed to subsidise the flagship arts centre.

Member states of the EU take it in turns to nominate a cultural capital and the role falls to the UK for the 2008 event.

It is understood the European Union wants a British area to be awarded the title.

Previous holders of the title have included Dublin, Glasgow, Salonika in Greece and Stockholm in Sweden.
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Monday, May 07, 2001back



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