The Architectural Heritage Fund has awarded the Welsh Norwegian Society a grant of £4,000 which will help the society in its efforts to save the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay.
The Welsh Norwegian Society is appealing for match funding to the public who love this iconic building and the hundreds of performers, artists and community organisations that have been a part of its story in the years since Princess Märtha Louise of Norway officially reopened the Norwegian Church in 1992.
Cardiff Council announced plans to seek a commercial tenant for the Norwegian Church in late 2018, and the Welsh Norwegian society has campaigned since then to persuade the council that it must respect the building’s charity status and maintain the Norwegian Church for community use.
The grant from The Architectural Heritage Fund will go towards an independent feasibility study to investigate the best possible not-for-profit model for the Norwegian Church.
The Welsh Norwegian Society now plans to raise the matching funds needed for the study to go ahead. It has already donated £500 from its modest funds and another £100 private donation means they have a target of £3,400.
WNS Chair, Tyra Oseng-Rees said: “This generous grant award from AHF is a great endorsement of the importance of saving the Norwegian Church as a public space, and an asset that belongs to the people of Cardiff. We need to raise match funding of £3400 so that we can go ahead with the feasibility study, and we have set up a GoFundMe appeal.”
The distinctive Norwegian Church is one of the most recognisable buildings in Cardiff Bay and attracts over 200,000 visitors annually, including many international visitors who travel to see this iconic church with its links to Roald Dahl. Dahl was the first President of the Norwegian Church Preservation Trust which was established to save the church building in the late 1980s.
Adam Hitchings, Wales officer for The Architectural Heritage Fund said: “The Norwegian Church is one of the few surviving buildings from the industrial hey-day of Tiger Bay and has since become a cultural icon highlighting the shared maritime history between Norway and Wales. We are delighted to offer the Welsh Norwegian Society a grant to explore how the future of the Norwegian Church Arts Centre can be re-invigorated and put on a sustainable long-term footing through continued charitable ownership and operation.”
The Welsh Norwegian Society was founded in 1995 and has met monthly at the Norwegian Church throughout the last 25 years. Its aims are to promote continuing close links between Wales and Norway, and provide a focus for anyone interested in the Norwegian Church.
The society has been campaigning to ensure that the Norwegian Church will continue to be open to the public and remains true to the original aims of the Norwegian Church Preservation Trust.
Welsh Norwegian Society member Pauline Lomax said:
“We understand that Cardiff Council has been subsidising the Norwegian Church in recent years, and that was the reason driving their decision to seek a commercial tenant. But we passionately believe the Norwegian Church can thrive as an independent charity without the need for council subsidy. In these difficult times when a good news story can mean so much, we hope the public will get behind our campaign and donate towards our GoFundMe appeal.”