Wales Millennium Centre expresses its sincere thanks to Arts Council of Wales (ACW), following confirmation on 21 October of its financial support.
This emergency support ensures that 92 roles and valuable skills are retained. We will also support the wider community of artists as we rebuild our activity, providing vital opportunities for freelancers, and for apprentices to continue training. The money will also fund alterations and new technology to make the building safe to reopen.
Wales Millennium Centre lost £20m from ticket sales (85% of our income) when we closed in March 2020. Our commercial strength was immediately diminished in the face of the global pandemic.
We have cancelled hundreds of performances and have made drastic financial cuts, including significant staff reductions. It is still uncertain when we will be able to open our Donald Gordon Theatre for public performances.
Our current best estimate is April 2021 at the earliest, subject to Welsh Government guidance (which currently states that theatres must remain closed).
We are contacting ticketholders directly to arrange refunds or exchanges for those shows that are cancelled or postponed. Changes to performances are reflected on our website here.
Whilst we will not be open for large-scale performances until 2021, we will be working hard to re-open and strengthen Wales Millennium Centre as an asset and resource used by artists, communities and young people.
We are committed to the principles set out in ACW’s cultural contract to support a more diverse, inclusive and sustainable sector. We will reflect the diversity and richness of our community as we create work that fulfills our mission to inspire the nation and impress the world.
Keeping creativity alive
Back in April, our Artistic Director Graeme Farrow acknowledged that the future would be very different for us, that we should not go back to ‘normal’ but rebuild on stronger foundations. Over the past seven months we have kept the flame of creativity alive by supporting and enabling grassroots projects.
We launched Creative Voice training courses for young people, hosted a Butetown Carnival picnic, further developed our own productions for 2021 and beyond, showcased several community exhibitions, and supported our youth-led radio station, Radio Platfform, to continue broadcasting.
Live performances on our stages is why we exist. We will prepare our venues to reopen as soon as guidelines allow, starting with a series of closed, Coronavirus-secure events to pilot the best and safest approach.
Our new programme
Our new programme will continue to include the very best West End shows, alongside public art informed by participatory budgeting, creative learning experiences designed and developed by young people and growing support for artists and creative practitioners.
So, today’s news of emergency funding is both a much-needed lifeline and an opportunity for positive change. However, until we can generate income through our commercial theatre programme, we will still depend on the generosity of donors to support all our creative work and the opportunities it provides for artists, communities and young people.
I know I speak for everyone at Wales Millennium Centre when I thank Arts Council of Wales and the UK and Welsh Governments for their crucial financial assistance. Without this funding, the impact on livelihoods, skills and creativity in Wales would have been even more severe.
Our campus is home to eight resident companies whose staff and work will also be sustained by this grant, and we look forward very much to welcoming them back to the building as soon as possible.
We are very much aware that we play an important role as the national arts centre for Wales. As such our survival will support the health, sustainability, and success of our creative sector.
We are also very grateful for the wide-ranging support from our community during this difficult time. We have been strengthened by kind messages from our audiences, funders, and friends in the creative sector old and new.
In particular, we would like to thank Cardiff’s MPs Stephen Doughty, Jo Stevens, Kevin Brennan and Anna McMorrin, and Secretary of State Simon Hart, who campaigned to ensure that the difficulties faced by our sector were recognised in Westminster.
It is no exaggeration to say that without the support we have received from Welsh Government, Wales’s largest cultural organisation was at risk, along with livelihoods we sustain. Thank you too to Eluned Morgan MS and Dafydd Elis-Thomas MS who have provided critical support.
And finally, we’re immensely grateful to our members, supporters and individual donors who continue to support us. I know our staff and trustees are both relieved and grateful for the confirmation of funding. I would like to thank them all for their diligence and commitment that helped us get through the last seven months.
We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but this funding announcement gives us real hope that we will reopen in 2021 and continue to fire the imagination.