Newport’s Corn Exchange could be live music venue next year

todayDecember 1, 2023 5

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The Corn Exchange volunteer steering group, featuring Le Pub operations manager Sam Dabb and city councillor Emma Stowell-Corten, want to restore the High Street building to its original use – as a place for the community to gather.

Whilst still in the planning application process, they have a vision for a 500-capacity live music venue that also offers space for conferences, weddings and other celebrations.

“There are no other venues as agile as this, and Newport is so ready for it,” said Ms Dabb, chair of the volunteer steering group.

“In terms of live music, the Corn Exchange will be unique. There are no venues like this in South East Wales, meaning the area loses out on a whole raft of touring bands.

“I see in Le Pub just how popular Newport is for gigs with people not only from the city but the wider Valleys and Welsh borders area, and we know a bigger venue will compliment Le Pub’s offering perfectly.”

South Wales Argus: Artist's impression of the Corn Exchange bar

The steering group also includes music promoter Elisha Djan, financial controller Emma Jones, Stacey Alford (Press Play With Stacey), Zac Mather (Chroma) and English and theatre student Eleri Gray.

The project has a number of big-name backers – among them Rhys Hutchings from legendary Newport rap troupe Goldie Lookin Chain, who says the plans have come “just in time”.

“A dedicated live music venue with properly engineered sound and a proper backstage area for bands, run by people who really care about music and the Port, is going to be mega safe,” he said.

South Wales Argus: Rhys from GLC joins Sam Dabb and Emma Stowell-Corten to discuss the plans

BBC radio presenter Huw Stephens added: “Music fans need more large-scale shows promoted locally, with bands often calling in Bristol. But with no adequate-capacity venue in Newport, these events can’t come to South East Wales.

“Sam and Elisha have already made a name for themselves as excellent venue operators and would be ideally placed as a part of the team of guardians of a 500-capacity venue near the already highly reputed Le Pub.”

Against a backdrop of more than 130 grassroots live music venue closures across the UK over the last year, this project only adds more weight to the idea that Newport is bucking the trend.

The Corn Exchange would mark the city’s second venue opening in recent months, taking Newport’s total to four – just one behind Cardiff’s five.


Today marks the launch of the Corn Exchange Community Share Offer which invites members of the public and businesses to become shareholders in the project.

Zac Mather, one third of alt-rock trio Chroma, says it is important “as many people as possible” can be part of the venue’s future.

South Wales Argus:

“We’re asking anyone who can to help us get this off the ground at a high standard, and help us build this amazing space right in the heart of Newport,” he said.

There is a lot to be done before Caldicot indie kids The Bug Club are planned to take to the stage on Saturday, March 2, but the group are eager to make a success of their ideas.

To find out more, become a shareholder, buy tickets or enquire about the facilities, visit

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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