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Music and drama could become the future for Cardiff’s Old Library

13 Nov 2021 3 minute read
Yr Hen Lyfrgell, Cardiff

The future of the Old Library building in Cardiff looks likely to become more secure if plans for its development are accepted.

A report seeking to transfer use of the building via long lease, along with the full running and maintenance costs, to the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama will be presented to the cabinet of Cardiff Council next week.

The College’s plans include introducing a series of music and performance spaces in the existing rooms and further developing existing work at the Old Library in respect of the Welsh language, “to promote and protect the language.”

The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama has drawn up plans which aim to sustain and deepen existing aims in the Old Library to promote and protect the Welsh language.

While returning the Old Library to its original educational function for the college’s students and participants, it will restore the listed building to showcase its original features and layout.

Additionally, it aims to develop a creative workspace and café, offering public access to a “city living room” on the ground floor.

The Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Cllr Peter Bradbury said: “These are really exciting new plans for the future of the Old Library, whilst still remaining sympathetic to the history and tradition of the building.

“This will be a huge boost for performing arts and perfectly complements the existing Museum of Cardiff – which is such an integral part of the building, bringing together the history of the city – and the neighbouring St David’s Hall, which will create a hub for creativity and culture right in the city centre.”


Professor Helena Gaunt, Principal of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama said: “This architectural gem has education and community built into its foundations. Taking that history into the future, we aim to bring the space to life with music, drama, and a range of live performance as a magnet for local people. It feels like a perfect fit for Cardiff as a ‘City of Music’.

“Anyone who passes our current campus in Bute Park will appreciate the magic of hearing inspiring music spilling out through open windows – that magic will now become a feature of the city centre.”

The main areas of the building are currently occupied by the Museum of Cardiff which is council-funded, and Virgin Money which is a a commercial lease. The upper floors are partially occupied by Menter Caerdydd.

Heulyn Rees, Chief Executive of Menter Caerdydd and Menter Bro Morgannwg, said: “We are looking forward to working with Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in the future.

“Welsh language provision in the arts is very important to Menter Caerdydd and Menter Bro Morgannwg and we look forward to developing opportunities in the city centre.”

According to Insider Media, the building has benefitted from a comprehensive up-grade in recent years through grants from various sources including the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Museum of Cardiff and Welsh Government in support of the Welsh Language Centre.

However, the on-going maintenance of a building of that age means the costs of addressing the backlog will be difficult to predict and manage.

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