The future of Cardiff’s Mansion House will rely on it attracting more business to ensure one of the city’s jewels is kept complete.
Built in 1906 the house on Richmond Road has been told it needs to increase its income by over £20,000 as budgets are cut.
Over 200 corporate events and civil ceremonies have been held at the council-owned house in the last year, as it looks to launch an “aggressive” marketing campaign to get more bookings.
£3,000 has been chopped from the annual budget and Operations Manager Kathryn Richards said they faced challenges.
She told a meeting of Cardiff council’s economy and culture scrutiny committee: “We’re part of the ‘Cardiff Collection’. The Castle, City Hall and ourselves are crucial in attracting businesses to book us for events.
“It’s important we keep this place up to standard, and improve it so we can attract more people to use it for events.”
Just £4,000 has been set aside for repairs to the building which needs facilities urgently upgrading to compete with other venues.
Canton councillor Richard Cook questioned whether the council should keep the Mansion House.
He said: “It’s not going to get any better and it’s only going to get worse, with older buildings they always need a lot of work doing on them.
“Is there a case for selling the building? We’re making 300 staff redundant and there’s lots of empty desks in City Hall – could we move staff out and convert rooms in there instead?”
Ms Richards answered that calculations had been done that City Hall would lose approximately £136,000 of conferencing income if the layout was changed.
Former Lord Mayor Jacqui Gasson said the house was looking in good shape since she visited.
She said: “You’ve made it look a lot better since I was here about eight years ago. There’s a lot of new paint and carpets. It’s good to see.
“I think it’s a great building and we need to make sure enough is done to promote it and keep it in good shape.”
Investment has been made in the Mansion House security – as it’s hosted dignitaries including the Israeli Ambassador. It was the home of the Lord Mayor until 1999 when they stopped living there.
It’s also home to a number of expensive paintings and heritage items, including the £1.5m valued Bute Cup. An Italian mosaic also hangs in the drawing room, with the only other version being held at the Vatican.
Katie Branch, marketing officer for the house, said they were hoping to make more use of their heritage.
She said: “We’re working with the Civic Trust to really open up what we’ve got here. I think a lot of people want to come and see the building.
“We want to run open days and we’re signing up to the Open Doors scheme in September so people can come and look round.”
What do you think about the future of the Mansion House? What should the council do with it? Have you ever been inside? Let us know in the comments below