Today, Friday 28 November 2014, marks the 10th anniversary of Wales Millennium Centre, Wales’ national centre for the performing arts. To mark its first decade, the Centre has released a new impact report which reveals its significant footprint on British culture and economy since 2004.
With public subsidy levels at just 19% of overall income, an annual contribution of £50 million to Welsh economy and visitor figures of over 1 million each year, Wales Millennium Centre is a cultural regeneration success story and a world-class example of what arts venues outside London can achieve. Now Wales’ premier attraction and one of the UK’s most popular cultural attractions, the iconic Welsh arts venue packs a punch well above its weight.
As Simon Tait writes in the report’s Foreword:
“The enlightened pragmatism that brought us Wales Millennium Centre has been the guiding spirit… The first years were challenging, but the Welsh Government showed its confidence. After cogent representation the Centre was put on a firmer financial footing, increasing its annual subsidy to £3.6 million, or 19% of its total income – still considerably less than that received by comparable venues such as London’s Southbank Centre, the Barbican Centre, not to mention the Royal Opera House. And having earned its national and international status, the promise is even more exciting.”
Key points from the report include:
- Wales Millennium Centre contributes £50 million annually to the local economy. This is in addition to its resident partners, with Welsh National Opera contributing a further £22.5 million per annum
- At £3.6 million, its annual public subsidy through Arts Council of Wales is 19% of its total income; it earns more than £4 for every £1 of subsidy
- The Centre exceeded government targets for visitor figures five-fold, attracting an average of 1.1 million casual visitors each year. To date, it has welcomed over 13.5 million visitors through its doors, including 3.38 million theatregoers
- £100 million worth of tickets have been sold since 2004
- Housing many of Wales’ leading arts organisations, including the Welsh National Opera, BBC National Orchestra Wales and the National Dance Company of Wales, the Centre employs 1,000 people on-site
- Through its strategic partnerships, the Centre has become a centre of excellence for the performing arts. Cape Town Opera and the Mariinksy Theatre are just two of its international partners, whilst leading UK industry members have lent their endorsements to the Centre, from Matthew Bourne to Lord Lloyd Webber, who comments: “This is the best theatre built in the world in the last 50 years.”
- It was the first independent arts centre in the UK to achieve the international environment management standard ISO 14001 and is a founding signatory of the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Development Charter
- The Centre has the UK’s largest free performance programme, staging over 450 free performances annually. It has provided creative opportunities to over 200,000 children and young people
- The Centre is internationally recognised as a cultural landmark and one of the National Lottery’s most successful Millennium projects. It was voted Wales’ National Treasure by the public in November 2014
Managing Director Mathew Milsom comments:
“We are considered unique in the arts world, striking the right balance between business sustainability and cultural impact. Our success to date has been forged on the principles of sound business practices. An element of public subsidy, however, will always remain a vital component in our business model. Support from Welsh Government, through the Arts Council of Wales, allows us to provide more ambitious artistic and cultural programming, including quality international productions, as well as wider public benefit without the need for commercial return, including free performances and participatory activities, made available to the entire community.”
Graeme Farrow, Artistic Director, joined the Centre this year fresh from the Derry-Londonderry 2013 UK City of Culture. He comments:
“Wales Millennium Centre has made a tremendous impact over the past decade. I’m delighted to have joined in the tenth anniversary year to help the Centre take forward its ambition to be a cultural powerhouse.
“Over the next decade we will surprise people more regularly and throw open the doors to all the spaces within this amazing site and let the air in. Within the UK, I want us to produce and co-produce work that is recognised for its artistic quality and can also punch weigh commercially. I want the rest of the UK to think that ‘if they’re touring it. It must be worth checking out.”
The Centre’s Chairman Sir Emyr Jones-Parry, adds:
“The Welsh Government backed the development of this £106m world-class centre for the arts, supporting excellence and merit, and promoting the Welsh nation’s identity. It is important to maintain pride in the excellence of our own culture, but with an open, outward approach. Over the past decade the Centre has provided so much enjoyment, encouraged aspiration and ambition, and opened young people’s horizons and transformed lives, much as education seeks to do. We have been ambitious and outward looking and this is what we aim to engender in our young people through educational and artistic projects, such as our children’s chorus, who have presented outstanding performances overseas with our partners, the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg and Cape Town Opera in South Africa.”
The full report is available to view on Wales Millennium Centre’s 10th anniversary website http://wmc10.org.uk Further information on 10th anniversary celebrations, which will be supported by Lloyds Bank, will be available through the site.