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Process opens for submission of alternative bids to run St David’s Hall

06 Apr 2023 3 minute read
Photo by ell brown is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

The process of inviting alternative offers for the running of St David’s Hall in Cardiff has begun.

From today, the soft marketing exercise will allow qualified theatre, arts and venue services organisations to try and put in an improved bid to that made by Academy Music Goup (AMG).

The exercise follows a Cardiff Council cabinet decision on December 15, 2023 to agree in principle to an offer from AMG to take over the running of the concert hall.

If AMG’s offer remains the best option following the six-week marketing exercise, a Voluntary Ex-ante (VEAT) notice of intent providing details of the draft contract negotiated with AMG will be published.

Cardiff Council cabinet member for culture, parks and events, Cllr Jennifer Burke, said: “This additional process provides a further opportunity for parties interested in becoming custodian of St David’s Hall, protecting and delivering the classical music programme, and working with the Council to ensure the Hall’s sustainable long-term future, the opportunity to come forward with proposals so that they can be assessed against the existing offer from AMG.”

Any offers proposed during the process, which is open until 2pm on Friday May 19, must be submitted on acceptance of the following key conditions:

  • The council will require the transfer of all risk on maintenance of the building and asset including the requirements set out in a condition survey by the tenant.
  • The council will not be making any subsidy payment / contributions to the organisation in respect of the venue and its ongoing operation.
  • The council requires the organisation to take on full responsibility for all liabilities and obligations arising from the application of TUPE.
  • The council is seeking a covenant from the operator to deliver a classical programme of no less than 80 days per annum, for the full term of the lease.
  • The council requires the operator to agree to a keep open clause at all times imposed under a lease.
  • The council will be prepared to grant a lease for a term of 45 years in respect of the venue.

Budget gap

Cardiff Council currently faces a budget gap of £24 million and freeing itself from the running of St David’s Hall could help the authority save £1 million.

This isn’t to mention the venue’s eye-watering repairs bill, running into the millions of pounds, that the council would also no longer be responsible for.

However, the council’s plan has been opposed by some concert-goers and concerned residents who fear that the takeover of St David’s Hall by AMG could lead to job losses and have an impact on its classical music programme.

The council has given assurances that the contracts of current employees will be protected through a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) agreement.

They also said that the concert hall will continue to deliver its international concert series and classical music programme.

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