Theatre in Wales

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Creu Cymru get involved in the Millenium Centre debate     

Theatre managers in Wales have written to the Welsh Assembly to voice concerns about the viability of a proposed new showcase for the arts.
There is just a week to go before a decision is made about whether or not to go ahead with building the £92m Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay.

And, at the 11th hour, Creu Cymru - an umbrella group representing 31 theatre venues in Wales - has lobbied the assembly, spelling out its concerns.

The group, which includes leading venues like the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff and the Torch Theatre in Milford Haven, is concerned that the centre could have a damaging effect on venues like theirs.

Creu Cymru's members are worried that there could be a shortage of touring productions, and that the centre would attract huge levels of public subsidy - leaving their own venues to suffer.

They have flagged up the Lowry centre in Salford as an example of what they fear.

The £106m art and theatre centre in Salford Quays was opened to the public by Culture Secretary Chris Smith last April.

Financial drain

The centre, which includes two theatres, an interactive gallery and cafes, art shops and restaurants, was built in what was once an area of massive industrial decline.

Although the venue has proved extremely popular, it has still been a significant drain on public resources.

The Wales Millennium Centre project has been dogged by delays and rows over funding for several years.

Back in December, the project's backers presented new proposals to the assembly aimed to help allay fears about its feasibility.

Core features - including the dramatic slate and steel cladding of the building and the space allocated to the lyric theatre - remained unchanged.

But cost savings were made by changing the internal layout and reducing the height and complexity of the design.

Kathryn McDowell, the centre's chief executive, has said she is aiming to create something for everyone.

"The building will become central to Welsh cultural life, capable of providing an international stage for world-class performances of musicals, dance and opera," she explained.

Work was due to start this spring, but assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan has insisted that will not be released until he is satisfied with the centre's business plan.

Back in November it emerged that Cardiff Bay developers Grosvenor Waterside had made contingency plans to sell the 4.7-acre site which has been earmarked for the centre - if building work had not started within 12 months.

BBC news online  
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Wednesday, March 28, 2001back



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