Cardiff could lose some of its most prestigious cultural events  

Campaigners have started a petition to raise awareness about the risk of privatising St David’s Hall – one of the most prestigious venues in the UK.

St David’s Hall is located on The Hayes in Cardiff city centre, and it is the National Concert Hall and Conference Centre of Wales.

Cardiff could lose some of its most prestigious cultural events such as the Cardiff Singer of the Year and the Welsh Proms, according to organisers of a petition to save the venue.  

Cardiff Council are considering plans to lease the venue to the Academy Music Group (AMG) which runs venues such as London’s O2 Academy Brixton and Shepherd’s Bush Empire. But campaigners are concerned that they will prioritise pop over classical events and the petition has already had over 13,000 signatures.  

“St David’s Hall, the National Concert hall of Wales, is a cultural asset and deserves to be saved before a mistake privatising,” says Ben Harrington, the initiator of the petition, as stated in the petition, “we call on Cardiff Council to reassess this decision before a mistake is made.”

St David’s Hall offers performances of many plays and the repertoire will be updated from time to time.

Margaret Jones, a music teacher from South Wales, signed the petition because she is concerned that this move will reduce classical output and focus on large popular events and pop music.  

She said, “Nothing against pop concerts. But there are plenty of venues where these can already happen. It was the first place that was there specifically for classical music, I worry that if it is handed over, there will be less focus on classical music, which is already (wrongly to my mind) marginalised.”

St David’s Hall has been ranked as one of the top ten venues in the world for acoustics and campaigners are worried that changes to the venue could damage this reputation.

“The acoustics at St David’s are perfect for large-scale choral works where singers sing unamplified,” says singer Jennifer Johnston, a soprano who has been involved in BBC national orchestra performances at the venue. “If the stalls are removed for pop and replaced with temporary flexible seating, it will alter the acoustics possibly beyond repair. “

As well as the Cardiff Singer of the World competition and the annual Welsh Proms, Cardiff University’s graduation ceremony will also take place here.

The Cardiff Singers competition may have been cancelled as a result of this privatisation change. It has brought back cherished memories for some Cardiff Cardiffians. Lisa Morgan is a Welsh national who has lived in Japan for nine years. “I watched Cardiff Singer of the World from the start. Watching great world-class performances from Wales while in Tokyo made me so proud.” 

She also fears the cancellation of the Cardiff Singers is a huge loss for Cardiff,“World-class music is key to Cardiff’s international reputation. I also reckon that some other country will grab at the chance to have such a prestigious event in their capital city hall.”

Although not yet confirmed, the final destination of the hall has already provoked a lot of debate. It is hoped that the hall will not change, that classical music will not be marginalised, that the Cardiff Singers Competition will continue and that something can be done before it is too late.