Skip to main content


Royal Welsh College set to transform Cardiff’s Old Library

Cardiff’s much-loved Old Library building will be transformed into a beating heart of creativity over the next few years, inspired by Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

Share post



Date published

Published on 18/11/2021

Transforming Cardiff's Old Library

Cardiff Council has given full backing to the RWCMD’s bid to secure a long lease on the Grade II listed building at the heart of Wales’ capital city. The ambitious plans approved today (18.11.21) promise to nurture the most diverse range of talents and combine innovation with Wales’ cultural heritage. Future plans include creating music and performance spaces, promoting & protecting the Welsh language and providing a ‘city living room’ for public access.

'As the National Conservatoire of Wales we want to spark curiosity and nurture the most diverse range of talents, combining innovation with cultural tradition with Welsh heritage.

It is a real thrill to have this opportunity to bring the magic of the College right into the heart of Wales’ capital city, and work alongside local people, artists and creatives to transform our plans into a reality. Breathing new life into the Old Library is part of the RWCMD promise to Wales, its capital and to our future generations.

Over the coming years, we’ll aim to offer a range of inspiring activities and creative experiences at the Old Library and we’d love to explore ideas for future collaborative projects with organisations and artists interested in sharing this opportunity. We’re also looking forward to working with Cardiff Council to return the building to its roots of education and community in the City of Music.'
Professor Helena GauntPrincipal of the RWCMD

This fresh vision uses RWCMD’s creative excellence to help realise the full potential of this beautiful architectural gem. The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama’s bid includes plans to:

• Partner with the Welsh Language and Cultural Centre’s aims to promote and protect the Welsh language.
• Return the Old Library to its original educational function for the College’s students.
• Restore the listed building to showcase its original features, retaining the original building layout.
• Introduce a series of performance, exhibition and rehearsal spaces into the existing rooms.
• Provide public access to a ‘city living room’
• Open a café/creative workspace.

Editors Notes (FAQs)

How long will the lease be for, and what are the terms?
Once agreed and signed, the lease will run for 99 years. In exchange for a peppercorn rent, RWCMD will agree to cover all running and maintenance costs of the Old Library.

What does RWCMD understand about the running and maintenance costs of taking on this building?
Cardiff Council has been open and transparent about the costs they have incurred and improvements already made, so we have a fair indication at this stage. The Heads of Terms on the lease will be agreed before full commitment, and at that stage we will commission a full structural survey of the building to assess and plan for all projected costs, prior to the full lease being drafted and agreed.

Will there be a capital fundraising campaign to restore the Old Library?
Yes, we will need to fundraise and secure the support of private donors and public funders to make our vision for the Old Library a reality. The College is already in the very early stages of preparing a capital campaign to meet the costs of an inspiring architectural restoration and the re-purposing of the spaces for student training, performance and public participation activities.

What sort of activity will happen in the Old Library?
In the short term, we will use available space for rehearsals, while we prepare the building for the future. In the longer term, we will run a vibrant programme of public performances and events across music and drama, including fully immersive experiences for audiences. There will also be a café.

When will the lease commence, and what will happen to current tenants?
We hope to sign the lease in 2022. Once that is complete, we will work with tenants on a phased approach to taking full ownership of the Old Library over the next few years. As well as allowing breathing space for existing tenants, this approach will allow us to plan in depth to realise the full potential of the building, as we get to understand it from the inside out and outside in.

Other news posts