Cardiff opera bid ends on sour note

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The Independent Online
JOHN McKIE

Supporters of the failed plan for an opera house in Cardiff yesterday rounded on the man they blame for its demise.

Russell Goodway had, as leader of South Glamorgan and Cardiff City Council, successfully lobbied for lottery funds to go to the redevelopment of Cardiff Arms Park for Wales's 1999 hosting of the Rugby World Cup. But as leader of the city's new joint local authority he has effectively shut the door on a cultural centre for the city. At Friday's meeting between opera house trustees and the local authority, he said that he saw no need for a major arts centre.

Plans for the pounds 86m building, drawn up by the architect Zaha Hadid, had received local authority funding for the past five years, but under the new merged authority, will not receive a penny.

More than pounds 2m has already been spent on plans for the building, which was to have housed an opera house, theatre and museum. The modernist design will now be jettisoned after objections from Cardiff Bay Development Corporations and the local authority.

Mr Goodway denied he was opposed to an arts centre, saying: "I'm all in favour of a performance centre, but an opera house would not generate sufficient public support which the Millennium Commission would need to justify the application. The local authority always supported the rugby stadium, but this arts centre has to demonstrate public support."

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