South East Wales

Welsh Proms conductor guarantees orchestra fees

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Media captionOwain Arwel Hughes may have to use his own money after the local authority reduced its funding

The conductor of the annual Welsh Proms will have to pay the orchestra fees for this year's event in Cardiff himself unless most of the tickets are sold.

Owain Arwel Hughes is having to act as guarantor for three of the festival's four orchestral concerts after Cardiff council cut its funding.

The authority said it was facing a "period of severe financial restraint".

Mr Hughes said his promise to cover any shortfall in ticket sales was the only way to ensure the event took place.


Earlier this year Cardiff council announced it would no longer back all four Proms concerts, and would only continue to fund the Last Night of the Proms, saving £30,000.

The conductor, who founded the Welsh Proms in 1986, said he was taking a "gamble" by completely guaranteeing one concert, and helping to guarantee two others.

Image copyright courtesy St David's Hall
Image caption The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is performing at the Welsh Proms this month
Image copyright St David's Hall
Image caption Mr Hughes says his guarantee to pay the fees ensured the event is going ahead as planned

Mr Hughes admitted his role as guarantor could end up costing him dearly.

"It's very dangerous of course, and a gamble," he said.

He would not reveal how much the decision could cost him, but said he needed "good audiences" to avoid making a personal loss on the event.

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Media captionOwain Arwel Hughes set up the Welsh Proms in the 1980s

"I don't criticise the council, or anybody," said the conductor. "We understand the problems, we all have to rally around and do things, and this was the only way that we could have guaranteed the Proms this year."

Tickets for the Welsh Proms - which are not connected to the BBC Proms in London - range from £5.50 to £35 each in the 2,000-seat venue.

A council spokesman said: "We see the Welsh Proms as a central part of the City's cultural offer but we are operating in a period of severe financial restraint."

The 29th Welsh Proms begins on Saturday.

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