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Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 11:50 GMT
Wales Millennium Centre: Landmark or liability?
Proposed Wales Millennium Centre
Work will finally get underway on the long-delayed Wales Millennium Centre in the next few months to create a landmark arts centre in Cardiff Bay.

As the cost rises to more than 100m, the scheme is now more expensive than the ill-fated opera house project it replaced.

Click here to read the full story

Some organisations claim the centre will threaten the livelihood of other theatres and venues across Wales.

And the record of Millennium projects such as the Dome in London and the National Centre for Popular Music in Sheffield has not been good.

But backers of the Wales Millennium Centre say it will do for the arts what the Millennium Stadium has done for sport.

Does Cardiff need another millennium landmark? Should the arts in Wales have a home to be proud of? Or could it be a Dome too far?

HAVE YOUR SAY


I'm thrilled to hear about this new centre - Cardiff is rich with musical talent and deserves to be put on the map not only for sport but for the arts too

Naomi Excell, Wales

I think this is just what the bay needs, an enormous slab of concrete and steel to blend in with the other buildings. What ever happened to the desire for parks and green areas that the City used to be so proud of? Is it just they dont make money?
Dave, wales

Yet again the assembly has dreamt up another way to waste OUR money on something that cannot be a use or a benefit to the majority living in Wales and paying for the scheme. I find it hard to believe that the assembly can think that this idea is plausable with the current state of the health service and the education system in Wales. Am I not the only one who sees the real problems in Wales?? The issues that concern us all day in day out are ignored by the Assembly Members who are too busy discussing what colour they should paint their new expensive arts centre. What on Earth will we hear next - the Assembly forking out on a new debating chamber even though theirs is perfectly good? Oh hang on a moment......... Kate Morgan, aged 15
Kate Morgan, Cardiff, Wales

Once again everyone in the media and living in Cardiff is raving about another monument for Wales that will put the whole country on the map. Has anyone ever talked to the people north of Merthyr Tydfi - no not just the North Walians but us in Mid Wales. It's quicker to drive to the Midlands and see some culture than Cardiff. Ah well. It's the Tafia again!
B, Powys, UK

Good the twits in the bay have managed to decide something. Now lets see if they can actually build it. And by the time it is open ensure a visit to it for an evening out is possible by public transport, i.e, fast trains from all parts of the country. 150 miles to London takes two hours it should take little longer to any part of wales. Lets see Rhodri's commitment to uniting our country.
keith parry, Wales

I keep seeing comments about what we need or don't need. If we lived our lives with only what we physically need we would be merely existing, not living.

To those who have mentioned the health service, I would just like to add that I noticed on the news yesterday that, following scientific research, live music may be used in hospitals to reduce the stress levels of patients.

Personally, I'm thrilled to hear about this new centre - Cardiff is rich with musical talent and deserves to be put on the map not only for sport but for the arts too.
Naomi Excell, Wales

This is a cunning ploy by the Welsh Assembly - announce this whilst quietly burying the row over the new debating chamber - which is still going ahead. Details will be out in the summer, and it has no costs attached this time. Also, the biggest patrons of this latest Welsh white elephant will probably be the assembly members and their "hangers-on". After all, they only have to walk 'over the road' to get to this one, unless they have a 'secret' tunnel built to keep them dry.
Paul, Wales


Amid the rejoicing and usual self-hating recrimination, let us pause a moment and weep for Zaha Hadid's opera house, and promise never again to let the "my tadcu was a pit pony" Labour Philistines destroy a building that would have given Wales a landmark that the world would have recognised and lauded.

Martyn Morgan, Cymru

The decision to build the Millennium Centre is a very welcome one for those who live in Cardiff and along the M4. However, it will do nothing for the people of north Wales. As ever, since the Welsh Assembly came into being, a case for a major project in Cardiff is made on the basis that it will benefit Wales as a whole.

Unfortunately, the chances of anyone in Bangor, Pwllheli or Conwy ever making a performance are very slim indeed.

The road and rail system between north and south Wales is as poor as ever, and contributes to the widening sense of inequality between the two halves of Wales. Something has to be done to improve communication links. Only then can the Welsh Assembly claim to be doing something for the whole of Wales.
S. Griffiths, Wales

Amid the rejoicing and usual self-hating recrimination, let us pause a moment and weep for Zaha Hadid's opera house, and promise never again to let the "my tadcu was a pit pony" Labour Philistines destroy a building that would have given Wales a landmark that the world would have recognised and lauded. By the way, it is possible to have public buildings that make the heart soar and still maintain good public services - see contemporary Europe and Britain pre-Thatcher.
Martin Morgan, Cymru

All those calling for money to spent on healthcare, education, homelessness and the other usual noble causes are right - but seem to ignore the fact that lottery money cannot be used on these things - so it's not an option anyway.

As for the rest of Wales missing out once again, surely it is plainly obvious that the new centre is being located in Cardiff because it's the capital, and that's what capitals do; more importantly, it is the only city region in Wales whose population catchment is large enough and demographically suitable enough for such a project to work.

England's regional cities may be big enough to bid for such schemes to be located outside London, but Wales's are unfortunately not. And let's face it - Cardiff Bay is a far more suitable context, physically, for this type of large, contemporary building than, say, Aberystwyth or St. David's. If anything's worth whingeing about, then it is the pathetic delays in getting the project off the ground - and the naff, tired name.

Otherwise, though, it is time to get behind our capital, which has done more to raise the profile and improve the image of our principality than anywhere else.
Pat Matthews, Wrexham, Wales

This is an opportunity for Wales to establish a landmark in its capital a city bereft of architectural merit. Past failed schemes such Hadid's opera house, Will Alsop's literature centre and the ongoing debacle over the Welsh Assembly building has made Wales a laughing stock. The assembly must act decisively and stop being so short sighted. People complained about the Eiffel Tower and St Paul's Cathedral - now they buy postcards of them.
Richard Lewis, Wales

There are far too many run down and deprived areas in Wales to even think about spending millions to build yet another white elephant. For goodness sake do we really need this? NO, of course not.
David Lewis, Wales

In reply to your editorial comment about the Millennium Dome and the National Centre for Popular music, I suggest that you visit The Eden project in Cornwall, The Lowry in Salford and Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh to see what a success Millennium project looks like. There is far more reason to assume that the Cardiff Bay Project will follow in these footsteps. It's just as well that no-one is trying to set up the BBC now - it would never get further than the planning!
Derek, UK


There are far too many run down and deprived areas in Wales to even think about spending millions to build yet another white elephant. For goodness sake do we really need this? NO, of course not.e

David Lewis

Another attraction for South Wales is this to divert visitors from north Wales so they cannot see the deterioration, the crumbling buildings, boarded up shops, and empty factories. Before tempting people to Wales they should try injecting some money into existing buildings and rejuvenating areas, If they visit once they certainly won't come back.
JO JONES, United Kingdom

COMMENTS:

This is great news for all the arts in Cardiff and Wales. Now it would be great if there could be a positive decision regarding the new building for the assembly. One last word regarding 'Jason USA', this person is surely joking with us, as the USA is almost devoid of any culture outside of the major centres. I know, the majority of my working time is spent travelling throughout the USA.
Brian Hardacre, Canada

When is north Wales ever going to be considered for major schemes or indeed ever be taken seriously by the assembly. It seems to me that we would be better off being run by central government!!
Chris Murray, North Wales

It's only 2002 and the Welsh Millennium project will soon be under way. Nothing like planning well in advance, is there? But I wonder how the organisers know that the Wales Millennium Centre will be architecturally and culturally appropriate at the next millennium. And more to the point - will it be finished in time?
Chris B, England

For too long Welsh taxpayers (and those from elsewhere in the country) have given massive subsidies to the arts in London and received nothing for it. Finally we will see some return on that money. As for our Cymrophobe Jason, perhaps he could be a guest of honour at the opening of the Centre?
Robert, UK

I think that this Millennium Centre is a complete waste of money. This could have been given to improve health and education facilities in Wales. What a waste!
Gary Jones, Wales


The cost is absolutely appalling. Ask the average person in the street what they want.

Mark Hughes, Wales

Controversy over new arts buildings is not new, the Beauborg and the Pyramid in Paris, the Opera House in Sydney, the New Opera House in Milan ... the list goes on. However, these buildings have become famous in their own right and increased tourism in their respective cities. We are partly defined by our culture so Wales should have a building to present culture to be proud of.
Stephan, Wales

I am very annoyed to hear that they are going to spend over 100 million an a art centre when they can't even spend a couple of thousand to put some tarmac on our road all we have is a dirt road with bits of tarmac were people have felt so sorry for us but who cares about Abertridwr when they can spend money else where.
Andrew Clash, Wales

Cardiff is a big place for big projects and the Wales Millennium Centre is just such a project, however the International Film Festival of Wales should be returned to Aberystwyth as a point of principle, apart from anything else. Those wishing to sign my petition (now 500 strong) may download the form from the campaign website: http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ianto/iffwcampaign.htm. It's one thing for new projects like this new Millennium Centre to be set up in Cardiff, but for Cardiff to poach cultural events from other parts of Wales is out of order.
Ian Pegler, Aberystwyth, Wales

The Millennium Centre will be a landmark for Cardiff and a focal point for the arts. Much of the budget couldn't be spent on other public services anyway. The majority is a lottery grant and a significant proportion is from private partners.
A Resident, Wales

Yet another large sum of taxpayers' money is spent on Cardiff. Nobody can now deny that people from the rest of Wales are being treated like second-class citizens. We pay the same taxes, so these amenities should be divided fairly between all parts of the country. If the politicians (and journalists) stepped outside Cardiff for just five minutes maybe they would realise the depth of resentment towards the place by everyone west of Bridgend and north of Merthyr.
Andy Jones, Wales

Oh please....it's Wales we are talking about here.... An arts centre in the middle sheepsville is a waste of money that mostly comes from the rest of the UK and not the Welsh. If you are going to spend our money on anything like this arts centre then at least pick a place where the locals would understand what it is - Wales is not such a place
Jason, USA

Fantastic news! The Sydney opera house also had its detractors who look pretty foolish now.
Paul Frost, New Zealand

I am really pleased that the Millennium Centre is going ahead. If Wales wants to have a higher international profile it has to have a capital city, which has such landmark sites. People will only talk about Cardiff if there is something to talk about. The Millennium stadium has already shown that. It also means that people from other countries will want to visit Cardiff and so as a result other parts of Wales.
Brian Passmore,France


The Millennium Centre will be a landmark for Cardiff and a focal point for the arts. Much of the budget couldn't be spent on other public services anyway. The majority is a lottery grant and a significant proportion is from private partners.

Andrew, Wales
37m of taxpayers' money is better spent bringing enjoyment to people of all ages than building a new home for egotistical assembly members who have spent millions of taxpayers' money on themselves since being elected. The costs of this project have only increased due to delays and extra studies, the same as the proposed new assembly chamber and the Millennium Stadium. Provided the WNO is not allowed to dominate the performances this centre will bring a variety of "big" shows to Cardiff. The nearest alternative is Bristol since St David's Hall is not capable of staging anything with large elaborate sets. Also, if the Millennium Centre brief is held to, it will provide workshops to youngsters and disabled people as well as allowing amateur production companies to use its facilities. All I ask is that the architects allow for sufficient parking space or a direct public transport link. That is the only negative of having such a centre in Cardiff Bay. Whether it will prove a success or not, the assembly should be praised for finally deciding on something other than themselves.
Jonathan Davies, Wales

I think Wales and Cardiff should have a centre that the Welsh people can be proud of. A place in which they can celebrate their rich musical heritage and culture.
Richard Walker, Wales

This landmark project is worth every penny! I didn't hear such a whinge when the Westminster Parliament decided to spend 240m on a new Office Block for MP's in Westminster. Or the 214m on a refit for the elitist Royal Opera House. Oh and what about the Millennium Stadium, a great project for those who like rugby and Robbie Williams. The Wales Millennium Centre is innovative and inclusive, housing not only arts organisations but also groups for youth and people with disabilities. The 37m of public money going towards this project would do next to nothing if injected into the education system, or the NHS. The Potential for incoming business in the form of continued corporate investment in Wales and not to mention tourism are surely worth it. Why can't we Welsh for once be proud of something?
Andrew, Wales

Why shouldn't we build a centre for the performing arts . After all London had the millennium dome , we deserve our own white elephant . At least ours will continue to cost the taxpayer money for decades to come when the feeble dome will be already sold off. We have a perfectly good opera venue in the St Davids centre , why build another one 2 miles down the road ? We have several auditoria (ums?) in Cardiff capable of staging whatever is needed , what void , what yawning gap does this project fill ? It satisfies the egos of the petty-minded politicians who can think of no other reason than Cardiff is the capitol of Wales it SHOULD have a premier arts venue.
Andrew Torrance , Wales , UK

The cost is absolutely appalling. Ask the average person in the street what they want.
Mark Hughes, Wales

My wife has been waiting for an operation for over 2 years! Don't tell me this is millions of pounds of OUR money well spent! At the very least there should have been a referendum on the decision.

Secondly was anywhere else considered for the location? Probably not! As London gets everything in England - Cardiff gets everything in Wales.
Andy Parr, Wales

It is a tragedy to all Welsh people in dire need of health-care, let alone the children who do not yet have a hospital in Wales, to see this obscene amount of money being squandered so jubilantly in the name of the arts.
Carol Cutajar, Wales

What are our priorities in Wales in 2002 and beyond? Do we want to promote ourselves with grand buildings and more facilities of the type that we already have, but are underused and subsidised by the citizens? Or, can we help with millions of pounds where help is needed - hospitals, the homeless, the poor, the needy? How about a regeneration of run-down towns and villages that have had the life sucked out of them? How about the provision of work in unemployment blackspots? Anything but a multi-million pound Arts Centre and another expensive building to grace Cardiff Bay. We don't actually NEED it!
Allan Evans, Wales

We do not need this millennium centre. This assembly should be putting money into homes for the homeless. Something which is badly needed throughout this country. The CIA (Cardiff International Arena) is the worst possible venue and this millennium project will follow suit.
Margaret Lewin, Wales

It was not the building of the previous millennium attractions but the research of the subject and management of the facility! There are council owned venues already in Cardiff that are subsidised to the "tune" of millions, whereas there are private venues that turn in a profit. Providing the centre is an "all round" facility, properly managed, promoted, accessible to the people of the City and County of Cardiff and utilised to its full potential, it should not fail. If it does, sell the building. After all Wales is the Land of Song, isn't it ?
Phil Daw, UK

Honestly, I do wonder. I mean, it's not like the Victorians would have had a problem with this kind of thing, is it?

I can't figure out whether it's floundering committees, rip-off contractors, or maybe just sheer incompetence all round. The Dome was the same. The key is just to pick a building, and build it! Or, since the moment has truly passed, give up. Re-assess. Find something people actually want and do that instead.
Russell Moore, UK

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