Posted: Fri 13th Mar 2020

Councillors approve “exciting” £800,000 revamp of Gwynedd arts centre

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Friday, Mar 13th, 2020

An almost £800,000 revamp of a Gwynedd arts centre represents “an exciting time for Pwllheli” it has been claimed.

Tuesday saw the cabinet approve a £570,000 “invest to save” project at Neuadd Dwyfor in a bid to increase visitor numbers.

Following the decision the portfolio holder for economic development, Cllr Gareth Thomas, said: “After some concerns in recent years regarding funding the town centre resource, I am delighted that a detailed long term plan is in place and a financial investment has been secured to invest in this cultural, educational and community used building.”

The action plan will now look at re-designing the Library space and investing in new resources, together with creating a toilet that’s more easily accessible.

The foyer will also be reconfigured and refurbished to create a more welcoming space, as well as a new café and bar area.

Cllr Thomas added, “There will also be more comfortable and retractable seating to ensure a flexible space is available for various performances and events to be staged within the theatre.

“A glass balustrade will also be introduced to the balcony to safeguard the audience and enhance visitors’ experience of watching performances from the seats.

“Of course, the vision we have for Neuadd Dwyfor will require the commitment and full support of the community, as it is, ultimately, their local resource.

“By improving the services available, it is hoped that local residents will take ownership of the venue and promote the location as a multi-purpose hub which boosts Welsh culture and Welsh-language events in the area.

“It is also an important resource for the thousands of visitors who come to the area throughout the year.

“I’m looking forward to visiting Neuadd Dwyfor in the autumn to see the newly refurbished building.”

The move follows a consultation which found that while there are many positives at Neuadd Dwyfor, which houses a theatre, cinema and library, complaints were also made by members of the public regarding the quality of the seating, foyer and lack of food and drink.

The centre attracted 52,000 visitors in 2018/19, but it was said that there was a need to show new films closer to their release dates and a need to invest in better technology.

But the report that will be presented to cabinet members next week notes that Neuadd Dwyfor has “now reached a crossroad in terms of its future”, with £569,447 being earmarked from the authority’s Transformation Fund.

The remainder of the £779,314 cost is likely to come thanks to  another £89,867 in capital receipts of the economy and community department and £120,000 thanks to the Welsh Government.

It went on to note, “Having reviewed the options, not investing to save would create a situation where Neuadd Dwyfor would be a resource generating more annual loss for the council and put the viability and future of Neuadd Dwyfor at stake.

“Closing would detrimentally affect the town of Pwllheli and the area in terms of the economy and regeneration, and from an arts, cultural and linguistic viewpoint.”

By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter

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