Rubicon Dance takes on Roath Library: a behind-the-scenes insight

News that Rubicon Dance is to take on much-loved local building Roath Library spread last week to a huge collective community cheer.


Though some expressed disappointed that it isn’t being renovated as a library, most got out the bunting and did a little dance at the thought of the building being brought back into life and back into use.

Taking on a building is a massive endeavour, especially one which needs renovation (Roath Library closed in November 2014 because of significant long-standing repair and maintenance issues that rendered the building unfit for public use), so it’s clear that this didn’t happen overnight and that a significant amount of work went on behind the scenes to get Rubicon Dance this far.

This week, Inksplott caught up with Adam Lloyd-Binding, Centre Co-Ordinator, to get the how, what, when, where and why behind this awesome development for the Adamsdown-based charity.

Inksplott: First of all, massive congratulations on your successful bid to take on the running of Roath Library!  This is such exciting news!  But what does this mean for the existing Rubicon site?  Is Roath Library an expansion or will you be moving into the building and closing down the studio on Nora Street?

Adam: Thank you! Roath Library is going to be an additional property for us – we will retain Nora St, and run classes in both venues.

Inksplott: How long have you been in discussion with Cardiff Council?

Adam: We’ve been talking to Cardiff Council about a new venue for a long time (5 yrs +).  In the last year, we became aware that Roath Library was falling under the CAT Scheme (Community Asset Transfer), and it was the sensible option to put a proposal forward.

Inksplott: What are the major challenges facing you in the renovation?

Adam: The renovation – well, everything needs doing – roof, flooring, plumbing, electrics etc.  And then there’s the practical stuff of installing dance facilities.   So it’s gonna be a big build.

Inksplott: How will the renovation be funded?

Adam: Funding is another huge challenge – we estimate that the renovation / build will cost approx. £2m – we are applying to trusts / foundations / grant giving organisations to fund the majority of the project.

Inksplott: Are you hoping to expand staff or classes?

Adam: We are definitely looking to expand the number and variety of classes offered in both venues.  We haven’t got to the stage of programming that yet, but that’s the vision.  And yes, there will have to be an expansion in our staffing in order to manage the venues effectively.  Again we’re not at the stage to say how many new staff, but I’m sure all that will come out in due course.

Inksplott: Who are your key allies in this endeavour?  Who’s helping you achieve this awesome goal?

Adam: Our participants are our greatest advocates – we will be looking to involve them, and the wider community at all stages – we have already had offers of help.   Aside from the practical stuff, we will be working with existing and new partners (funders, project partners, community groups, business consultants, architects, Cardiff Council, CADW……etc)

Inksplott: What has helped you achieve this?  What’s the back-story?

Adam:  A new property has been a long standing ambition (10yrs +).  We have previously commissioned feasibility studies as to what we need / what is achievable.  In the last couple of years it has become apparent that our programme has outgrown our Nora Street studios, and so the search was intensified.  Massive thanks goes to Arts Council Wales, Cardiff Council, our funders, partners, participants, staff, trustees, friends, parents, carers and supporters for getting us this far – this is only the first step of a very long journey……

Needless to say, all the staff are as pleased as punch, and looking forward to the work ahead.

Kathryn Williams, Director of Rubicon Dance, added:

“We are delighted to have been successful with our proposal for breathing new life into Roath Library. The entire Rubicon team is extremely grateful to Cardiff Council for this significant investment in the community of Adamsdown and community dance in general across the city.”

Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, with responsibility for libraries, Cllr Lynda Thorne said:

“It’s great news that Rubicon Dance will be taking over the former Roath Library building. The Council has been looking for a suitable organisation or group to use the property for the benefit of local residents and received significant interest from a number of parties.

“Rubicon Dance outlined a very clear and impressive vision in their proposals for the building as they look to expand their activities in the city. Their plans provide a good solution both for the building and the local community.”

Rubicon’s plans include creating a dance centre with at least 3 dance studios, one of which would also provide an informal performance space. They also plan to run accredited learning activities in the building as well as a new open programme for the community including provision for those with disabilities, the elderly, children and young people.  An investment of around £2m in the building is expected and the new facility is anticipated to open in September 2019.

The organisation is also keen to provide an informal meeting place for local people and Cardiff’s independent dance sector with free wifi and bookable hot desks to encourage people to access the facilities.

Local Councillor, Owen Llewellyn Jones is delighted by the development and told Inksplott:

“I’m very excited about this move. Rubicon Dance are Adamsdown through and through and it’s brilliant to see them take over one of our most iconic buildings. The work they do throughout the community, in schools, in care homes is fantastic and this move will see that work expand. That end of Clifton St will now have a top class dance school right alongside the brilliant No Fit State Circus. We have a performance hub on our hands!”

And the library?  Cardiff Council is now working in partnership with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board to create a permanent library provision in the former chapel at Cardiff Royal Infirmary.

For more information on Rubicon Dance, visit their website here: