The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama has received a £2mn donation to help it restore and transform Cardiff city centre’s landmark Old Library.
The donation from Welsh-American businessman Sir Howard Stringer and his wife Lady Stringer launched the College’s campaign, which needs to raise £12mn for the project. It has also received £1mn from the Mosawi Foundation.
The campaign launch follows the recent transfer of the Library from Cardiff Council to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama for for the next 99 years on long lease. As a thank you, the main first floor studio of the Library has been named the Sir Howard Stringer Studio for the remainder of the lease term.
The Old Library project is expected to be completed over five years in a number of phases and will see the building return to its original mission as a public space for arts and education.
The College is now setting out on a period of consultation and public engagement activity to co-create a plan for the community use of the building. This will include working with other city centre businesses, diverse communities, venues, arts organisations and the public and current tenants, including the Museum of Cardiff and Menter Caerdydd.
Sir Howard, who was born in Cardiff, and was previously the Chairman of the Sony Corporation and of the American Film Institute Board of Trustees, and President of CBS, has a long-standing relationship with the College, having been made a Fellow in 2001. The College offers Sir Howard Stringer Scholarships to support young people from Wales and America.
RWCMD Principal Helena Gaunt said:
“We owe huge thanks to Sir Howard and Lady Stringer for this heartfelt and generous gift. As we approach our 75th birthday we have a clear vision for the direction of the College and the Old Library is at the heart of it, offering new opportunities for students to curate and co-create inspiring performance and activities with diverse groups of participants and audiences.
“Extending the College out into this city centre building – directly opposite St David’s Hall – will provide an important extension of our teaching capacity and talent programmes. Equally important, it also offers us a rare opportunity to offer flexible performance and workshop spaces and create a widely accessible cultural, artistic and educational hub for the public.”
Sir Howard Stringer commented:
“The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama has long been a cornerstone of Welsh culture. The conversion of the beautiful, historic library into brilliant rehearsal studios and classrooms extends the presence of the College into a wider community, through performance and public engagement while further securing its current and future role as a leader in the development of the arts and the creative industries in Wales. There’s a reason ‘we’ll keep a welcome in the hillside’ resonates globally. It is also the reason I have always come back to Wales, because my birthplace is where my love of music and drama began, and thus, stimulates my support.”