British Council Creative Economy

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19 December 2013

In Focus: Chapter Arts Centre

Chapter is an ambitious, multi-artform cultural space based in Cardiff, Wales that presents and produces international art, performance and film alongside a dynamic social space. We chat to Andy Eagle, Chief Executive about Chapter's history, role within the local community and business model.

(c) Chapter.org

Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff has existed since 1971

What is the significance of the Chapter Arts Centre within the creative and cultural industies in Cardiff?

Chapter Arts Centre was founded to create a workspace for every arts practitioner in Cardiff. It began its trajectory in 1971 when a group of visual artists approached the City Council and asked for a space to create art. They were given permission to use an old deserted school building which was built in the Victorian style. The artists’ dreams came true as they were given the space where the Chapter Arts Centre is located today. The centre has been constantly developing and growing ever since, now with 120 employees. Most of Chapter's social space  is used as a café bar in order to obtain finances for the organization. We have two cinemas with a seating capacity of 188 and 57, two theatres with a seating capacity of 160, an art gallery, and seven meeting and rehearsal rooms available for community hire and commercial companies. We also have a community garden. There are 32 companies situated in the centre including filmmakers, animation studios, design houses, architecture studios and other organizations which work in the field of creative industries, as well as a radio station. Hence, the centre is providing employment for about 300 people. This is a great number of employees in the local community, which is setting an example of how the creative industries can regenerate the city. Cardiff is a small post-industrial city with a population of about 300,000 residents. It is getting harder to find a job so the creative industries are seen as an opportunity to revive the city. It is not an easy journey because we have to persuade politicians on local and national levels about each matter, but we are being gradually recognized as part of the city’s economy.

(c) Chapter.org

You have mentioned that Cardiff is a small city, but there have been 800,000 visitors to the events organized in Chapter. How did you reach so many visitors?

Many cultural activities take place in the artistic community in Cardiff. There are times when every room in Chapter is hired by the local community for business meetings, birthday parties, ballet lessons... Most of the people who are part of the cultural life in the city hire our rooms, which is the main source of our income. We do not always define and curate the programmes of the centre; instead, we let the community choose its activities and our organization is here to facilitate and support them since we believe in the creative potential of the community.

How long have you worked at Chapter and what does your position involve?

I have been at Chapter for two and a half years now, and my role as a Chief Executive is to ensure the financial stability of the organisation and to increase funds. The public funding in Great Britain has steadily decreased therefore we have to find new ways to raise our income in order to sustain ourselves. I believe this region is facing the same situation. 

How does the financing of Chapter work and how much state funding does it receive?

According to the financial statements, approximately 18 percent is state funded, whereas 82 percent of our income is raised by us through our box office, room hire, café bar sales, shops and other services. We often curate business-projects to raise money for the centre and provide financial support for the artists.

Andy Eagle is part of the British' Council's Canny Creatives Programme which aims to bring the talent and expertise of senior UK art's executives to the British Council's arts programmes in wider Europe through a six month secondment.  Andy Eagle will be based in the Balkan region.