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Norwegian Church Arts Centre in Cardiff Bay faces privatisation

The sun shines behind the Norwegian Church Arts Centre

The church has been open for 150 years but Cardiff Council wish to privatise it for commercial gain in the Bay

The sun shines behind the Norwegian Church Arts Centre
The Norwegian Church Arts Centre sits on Harbour Way, overlooking the water

Almost 6,000 people have signed a petition to save the Norwegian Church Arts Centre in Cardiff Bay from privatisation. The council have not yet clarified exactly what this will mean for the cultural hub.

In May, the council announced they were considering privatising the church due to its commercial potential.

A small scale model of the Norwegian Church sits in front of an old picture of the building, inside a glass case
Small exhibitions showing the building’s history are dotted around the Roald Dahl Gallery

The church on Harbour Way has charity status and is owned by the Norwegian Church Preservation Trust. In 2006, Cardiff Council became the sole named trustee.

The Norwegian Church Arts Centre attracts local and overseas visitors, acting as a cultural hub of Cardiff.

Upstairs in the Roald Dahl Gallery sits an arts and crafts gift shop full of employees eager to tell visitors about the history of Cardiff and its links to Norway. The employees direct visitors to other local areas to show what the country has to offer.

A wall feature displays a timeline of Roald Dahl's life and links to Cardiff
Roald Dahl was instrumental in the maintenance of the building, and the church holds a commemoration day every year on 13 September, the author’s birthday

Paula Davies-Ball of Barry said the building was iconic. “It sits as a feature like a beacon in the bay,” she said. Paula is a crafter-in-residence in the church’s gift shop which has been a permanent fixture for the last two years.

Speaking of the council’s plans for the building, she said it would be a shame to see the church go or not be used as intended.

Vases of wax roses sit behind a visitor book on a wooden table. The book contains scrawled comments from visitors to the Norwegian Church Arts Centre
The visitor book is signed by local residents but also visitors from Italy – someone described the centre as having a great atmosphere, saying it is “good for the soul”

The privatisation of the church could mean that the 70 businesses currently trading from the premises will no longer be able to use this space.

The council’s plans for the building are not finalised. If the charity was to be dissolved the assets would need to be put towards similar activities of cultural education.

A collection of Roald Dahl's work in both English and Norwegian is displayed in a glass cabinet
Roald Dahl’s works in both English and Norwegian are displayed around the gallery

Benjamin Drury, 37, is the organiser of craft fayres in the church. He said the Norwegian Church Arts Centre has been a home for people for the last 150 years and spoke of the importance to preserve the knowledge for others to benefit from in the future.

He said, “It is an important place of history that regrettably hasn’t had the care and attention that a charity deserves.”

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