A Brief History of Chapter

On March 23rd 1971, Chapter was formally registered at Companies House.

On April 15th 1971, at precisely 3.45pm the first Board meeting of Cardiff's Chapter Arts Centre took place. Over forty years later we celebrate four decades of creativity and innovation and our growth from a deserted school building to one of the major centres for contemporary arts in Europe.

Welsh artists, Christine Kinsey and Bryan Jones with journalist Mik Flood first discussed the idea of setting up an Arts Centre for Wales late in 1968. It was a time when anything seemed possible.

Over the next two years they found a home for the centre at the old Canton High School and put in place a series of events to raise money and generate interest in the idea of an arts centre. Working under the title 'The Arts Centre Project Group' this included a 12-hour pop concert in Sophia Gardens with Pink Floyd topping the bill and Black Sabbath and Quintessence in support.

Arts Centres were a new phenomenon in the early 70s. Kinsey, Flood and Jones saw a centre that was unique within Wales and beyond, serving the local community and establishing an environment in which all creative disciplines could be housed under one roof.

Within a short space of time painters, print makers, sculptors, potters, instrument makers and other artists moved into the building. Amateur groups like the South Wales Arts Society and Everyman Theatre Company also joined the centre and the Cardiff Cine Society led the way in the conversion of the old girl's cloakroom into one of the best small cinema spaces in South Wales.

Classrooms were converted into a gallery, the old school hall became a theatre, Moving Being, Cardiff Laboratory Theatre and Paupers Carnival moved in and Chapter became a real focus for both artists and audiences.

We have promoted a long list of famous names from film directors Justin Kerrigan, Marc Evans and Chris Monger (a former Chapter Board Member) to Turner Prize nominated artists Mona Hatoum and Cornelia Parker, from Oscar-nominated animators Joanna Quinn and the creator of Wallace and Gromit Nick Park to musicians John Cale and Susan Sontag, from comedians Jerry Sadowitz and Ben Elton to actors Willem Dafoe and former Python star Terry Jones.

In October 2009 we reopened our doors after a major redevelopment of the main site - we’d closed for just two days as we transferred things back over from the temporary home for our café-bar in our Stiwdio building (the former gym). The café-bar is now a thriving and dynamic social space which works alongside our expanding programme of international art, performance, film and ideas.

Today Chapter remains true to the original vision of its founders. A cultural and business success story, we house many of Wales' best known names in theatre, dance, art and animation, present over 1000 events a year, welcome over 800,000 visitors annually and work with partners from all over the world.

We continue to be driven by the aspirations and desires of artists and audiences, nurture independent voices, act as a catalyst for new ideas and provide a home for contemporary and community to come together with real purpose and passion.

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