Chapter Arts Centre

Chapter Arts Centre, Market Road

This arts centre has occupied the former Canton High School buildings since the early 1970s, playing an important role in Cardiff’s artistic development.

Canton Municipal Secondary School (renamed Canton High School in 1933) opened in 1907 with 85 pupils. The site was previously used for a livestock market, and the school was nicknamed the “Canton Cowsheds”. In 1941 the school was damaged by fire during a Nazi air raid. Lessons continued at various buildings in the area, with teachers cycling from one class to the next. Past pupils include John Toshack, manager of the Wales soccer team from 2004 to 2010 and, earlier, Real Madrid.

The school moved to a new site in 1962. The buildings opened to the public as Chapter Arts Centre in 1971, three years after local artists started discussing an arts centre for Wales. The fund-raising effort to establish the centre included a 12-hour concert in Sophia Gardens where the bands included Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath. Some of the classrooms were converted into a gallery, while the school hall became a theatre.

The centre quickly became home to a wide range of artists and craftworkers, including painters, potters and makers of musical instruments, while amateur and professional groups used the centre as their base. Cardiff Cine Society turned the former girls’ cloakroom into a small cinema. Having their work showcased at Chapter has helped many artists in their early careers, such as musician John Cale and film directors Justin Kerrigan and Chris Monger.

Chapter continues to host theatre, film, dance, art and animation. It presents more than 1,000 events each year, attracting more than 800,000 visitors annually.

Where is this HiPoint?

Postcode: CF5 1QE

Website of Chapter Arts Centre

More on the school’s history (Canton High School alumni website)