Theatre in Wales

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THE VOICE OF THEATR GWYNEDD’S AUDIENCE     

THE VOICE OF THEATR GWYNEDD’S AUDIENCE In a one and a half hour meeting on 16 October, 2008, representatives of the The Voice of Theatre Gwynedd’s Audience, Ann Jones, Lionel Gardner and Enid Gardner, met with Nick Capaldi, the recently appointed Chief Executive of Arts Council Wales, and Sian Thomas, Regional Director, North Wales, to discuss the imminent closure of Theatr Gwynedd.

The representatives of The Voice of Theatre Gwynedd’s Audience strongly argued the cause for keeping Theatr Gwynedd open until plans have been approved, and funding secured, for the proposed new Arts Centre. They also criticised the absence of any planned programme of events for the North West Wales audience after 13 October 2008, when the final film was screened at Theatr Gwynedd.

Mr Capaldi was not surprised at the strength of feeling of the audience, but was not persuaded to support even the mothballing of the theatre, rather than its closure. Notwithstanding the expenditure in 2006 of £250,000 on essential repairs, Mr Capaldi stated that more work needs to be carried out in respect of the asbestos in the building. Mr Capaldi was unable to provide even an estimate of the cost of any further work required. The Voice of Theatre Gwynedd’s Audience representatives pointed out that, according to their understanding, the asbestos problems had been effectively dealt with in 2006. Both Mr Capaldi and the representatives recognised that a full explanation should be sought from Bangor University and Theatr Gwynedd’s Board about why this situation has arisen, and the sequence of events leading to the closure of the theatre, and the company ceasing to trade from 31 October 2008.

Mr Capaldi also recognised the uncertainty about the financing of the proposed new Arts Centre. He has not visited Theatr Gwynedd, but intends to do so in November 2008.

He confirmed that ACW are now working with Welsh theatre companies in an attempt to offer some programme of events for the North West Wales audience. The Voice of Theatre Gwynedd’s Audience representatives acknowledged this as a partial response to the public petition.

It appears that the auction of Theatr Gwynedd’s facilities will go ahead on 30 October, and while as the Board admits, this will not raise a great amount of money, campaigners feel that it will mark the definitive end of Theatr Gwynedd, unless someone can step in and stop it happening.

The audience representatives left with many unanswered questions about the closure of Theatr Gwynedd. Ann Jones commented “Our greatest fear remains that if, in the current economic climate, the £25 million to £30 million cost of the new Arts Centre cannot be secured, or if the building costs escalate in the intervening years, and the project becomes untenable, the North West Wales audience may be left permanently with no provision. We will have regressed to the situation as it was before 1975, when Theatr Gwynedd opened. This is not acceptable.”


For further information, please contact: Ann Jones on 07831 352393, or ann.jos@btinternet.com or Lionel Gardner, 01248 362909 on behalf of The Voice of Theatr Gwynedd’s Audience
 
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