Norwegian Church to reopen next month under new custodians

Cardiff’s iconic Norwegian Church is preparing to reopen as a café, arts centre and music venue next month.

The move follows Cardiff Council’s decision to transfer the activities of the Norwegian Church Charitable Trust to a new charity led by the Welsh Norwegian Society. This is part of the authority’s aim of securing the long-term future of the city’s heritage assets.

The distinctive white building, close to the Senedd in Cardiff Bay and the site of author Roald Dahl’s baptism, was closed at the start of the pandemic in 2020, but is set to re-open in early April under the stewardship of Norwegian Church Cardiff Bay.

The new charity’s trustees include members of the Welsh Norwegian Society and members of the city’s Norwegian community who are now busy preparing the church for reopening and creating an exciting programme of events.

“Dr Martin Price, chair of the new charity, said: “The church has a special place in the heart of Cardiff people and we have a close bond with the Welsh Norwegian Society. Together, we will make sure the centre reflects our two cultures.”

 “I am thrilled to know that the Norwegian Church will remain as a charity preserving the heritage and cultural bond with Norway,” said Dr Tyra Oseng-Rees, chair of the Welsh Norwegian Society.

“We already have a strong connections with Vestland County in Norway and will continue to make sure that everyone with an interest in Norway has a place to visit for a little bit of Norway in Wales.”

Cllr Peter Bradbury, Cardiff Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, said he was delighted that the future of the Norwegian Church was now secure. “The building has been an icon of Cardiff Bay since it was built in 1868 and in the hands of the new charity I am confident the church will have a long and successful future ahead of it.”

The newly-appointed manager of the centre is Gareth Roberts, who expects it to be up and running at the start of April. “We’re really going to rejuvenate the space here,” he said. “We will have a redesigned café and make great use of the other amenities we have to run classes and workshops.

“The acoustics here are amazing and Côr CF1, one of Wales most successful choirs, is already using the church for rehearsals and we hope to put on a lot of live music and other performances here in the future.”

To help fund the centre, the new charity hopes to access grant funding where possible but expects significant revenue to come from gigs, hire of the premises and, of course, the café.

 “There is going to be a strong Welsh theme to the café,” said Gareth. “We will be using a lot of locally produced ingredients but there’s also going to be a lot of food with a Nordic twist and we’ll feature Norwegian dishes every day.”