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Threat to Cardiff venues as council seeks £500k savings

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Cardiff’s New Theatre and St David’s Hall are facing an uncertain future, with the city council planning to outsource their running in a bid to make budget savings of £500,000. In total, Cardiff Council has said it needs to make budget cuts of more than £50 million as a result of “significant funding reductions from Welsh Government and increasing pressures on existing council resources”.

As part of its proposals for 2014/15, the council – which runs both venues – has proposed “a new management operator being secured for either St David’s Hall or the New Theatre, or both”.
St David’s Hall is subsidised with £1.2 million a year, with the New Theatre receiving £800,000. According to the budget proposals, the council hopes to make savings of £530,000 from the theatres in 2014/15.

The authority’s proposals also include the “introduction of transaction fees payable on ticket prices”, closing the venues for “short, most costly periods where net savings can be made” and a reduction of staffing.

A spokeswoman for the council said that the level of cuts the council was required to make next year meant that it would “have to reduce the level of subsidy it provides to support the city’s cultural services while trying to ensure that the city’s cultural offer remains strong”.

Cardiff Council leader Heather Joyce said the authority had been working hard on proposals that would mean “the vast majority of the savings come from exploring different ways of working, reducing management costs and increasing our income. But unfortunately, and inevitably, some of the things we have put on the table will have a direct effect.”

The council’s budget proposals also include a reduction in classical concerts at the Welsh proms. It has proposed cutting the three major commercial orchestral concerts in the proms, leaving a “last night of the proms concert only”. It anticipates saving £30,000 through this.

As reported by The Stage last year, the proposals also include removing the grants for a number of arts organisations, aimed at saving it £231,000. This would see the £161,000 it currently provides to Sherman Cymru and the annual grant of £2,500 to Nofit State Circus come to an end.

The council has closed a consultation on the proposal. Meanwhile, a petition against the proposals affecting the New Theatre and St David’s Hall has been launched, which has been signed by more than 4,000 people, including Sheffield Theatres artistic director Daniel Evans.

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