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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 September 2007, 05:59 GMT 06:59 UK
Arts centre's ticket 'landmark'
Wales Millennium Centre
The WMC's opening night in 2004 was a grand occasion
The Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) has reached a "landmark" 20m in ticket sales since it opened in Cardiff Bay nearly three years ago, officials say.

When it opened in November 2004 there was some scepticism about whether the venue would meet its financial targets.

But with over 1.5m visitors since, the centre is on track to meet its targets for the third year running.

Meanwhile, two other city entertainment venues said they had sustained their ticket sales since WMC's arrival.

Bet Davies, advisor to the WMC, said when it had first opened there was "some cynicism" that people would not travel to the venue, and it would only attract a local audience.

But she said the 106m centre was now taking its place on the "world stage".

The WMC's biggest selling shows include:
Guys and Dolls
Miss Saigon
Wizard of Oz
Swan Lake on Ice
Buena Vista Social Club
Rumble

Ms Davies said tickets to see Wagner's epic Ring Cycle in March last year had sold out in just four hours and 58% of ticket sales to that event were from outside Wales, she said.

However, month-on-month 79% of the audience were from south east Wales, with 10-11% travelling from west Wales, she said.

About 9-10% were from "across the border" with around 3% of the audience making the journey from north Wales.

"We are working with coach operators to develop more packages to increase the audience from north Wales," Ms Davies said.

"We are always working to maintain our existing audiences, but also to attract new audiences through innovative programming," she added.

The Ring Cycle
Tickets to see Wagner's epic Ring Cycle sold out in four hours

Announcing the centre had passed 20m in ticket sales, the centre's chairman also highlighted efforts to attract new audiences.

Lord Rowe-Beddoe said: "These are landmark figures for a cultural centre which has been operating for less than three years.

"Over 1.5 million visitors have now visited the centre.

"What's more, we continue to attract new audiences - for example, 49% of all the audiences for the recent new musical 'Never Forget', were first time ticket buyers".

WMC chief executive Judith Isherwood said the centre was now looking at "restructuring and streamlining" in response to changes at the site, including the construction of a base for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

St David's Hall

But she denied the objective was to cut jobs.

"There is the possibility that the Arts Council of Wales will relocate down there," Ms Isherwood said.

"So once that development is finished we will have over 1,000 people working on that site every day.

"We need to review the way we're doing things to accommodate that...but also look to the other things we want to do."

Cardiff's St David's Hall and the New Theatre said they had "sustained" ticket sales since the WMC had opened.

A spokesperson said: "Both venues have been proactive in repositioning their programmes - in the case of the New Theatre to fill weeks previously held by the Welsh National Opera with highly successful drama and children's shows.

"St David's Hall, as a purpose built symphonic concert hall with a world-class acoustic, is developing its music programme and new strands of activity."




SEE ALSO
Full broadcast for Wagner's Ring
28 Feb 06 |  Entertainment

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