South East Wales

Broadway hope for Wales Millennium Centre artistic director

Graeme Farrow
Image caption New artistic director Graeme Farrow has big ambitions for Wales Millennium Centre

The new artistic director of Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) has said he wants to produce original Welsh shows that will travel to Broadway.

Graeme Farrow was speaking as the £106m WMC celebrated 10 years since being opened by the Queen on 28 November 2004.

More than 13.5 million people have visited the arts complex, which has a large theatre and smaller venues.

It is home to BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Welsh National Opera.

'Create, dream, excel'

Mr Farrow joined WMC as artistic director after overseeing the City of Culture celebrations in Derry, Londonderry in 2013.

He said his ambition for the centre was for it to "create, dream and excel".

He wants the Cardiff-based centre to "make its own work with Welsh talent, Welsh stories and Welsh values, and to take that to the world".

He said: "Could we take a work from Wales to Broadway? Of course we could!"

Mr Farrow said the success of the TV drama Hinterland, and the recent film Pride, had been inspiring.

He added: "Pride in particular is a Welsh story which people had maybe overlooked, and which was very interesting and appealed to your granny and your 12-year-old.

"That would be a model for us moving forward - to tell those big stories in interesting ways on big, big stages throughout the world."

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Media captionWales Millennium Centre: The facts and figures

Finances

Wales Millennium Centre faced severe financial difficulties in the years immediately after it opened.

The Welsh government intervened in 2007 to pay off a £13m loan, and increased its annual subsidy to WMC from £750,000 to £3.6m, which still accounts for around 19% of its income.

The centre's fortunes have been boosted by the popularity of musicals, including War Horse and The Lion King, which have toured to the venue and attracted sell-out audiences.

But Mr Farrow said his own plans to produce successful shows would involve an element of artistic risk.

He said: "When you make a work like War Horse, if it's good and it's right, there's always a chance that it could end up making money.

"So you've always got to balance good business sense with good artistic sense, and a good nose for product.

"And that is a challenge - it's a difficult balance to strike.

"It is possible to make work with artistic integrity that is also commercial, but I don't think it's right to set out to make work just to make money."

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