Posted: Fri 12th Jun 2020

Plans for ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ renovation of Theatr Clwyd in Mold receive the go-ahead

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Plans to undertake a “once-in-a-lifetime” renovation of a council-owned theatre in Flintshire have been given the go ahead.

Proposals to transform Theatr Clwyd in Mold were put forward at the tail end of last year due to the deteriorating condition of the 1970s building, resulting in roof leaks and poor disabled access.

While the facility was recently awarded Grade II listed status as an important example of a post-war theatre complex, owners Flintshire Council said there was a risk productions could be halted unless improvements were delivered.

The application to create a large extension to the front of the theatre, including a new three-storey foyer with a restaurant, bar and café has now been approved.

It’s been estimated that the overall work could cost around £35m, with the local authority and Arts Council of Wales already having spent £1m on developing the scheme.

The majority of the bill is expected to be footed by the Welsh Government with an announcement anticipated at a later date.

In a statement on its website, theatre officials said the building revamp was urgently needed.

They said: “From world-class shows made in Flintshire to our award-winning work with people young and old – for over 40 years our building has been a beacon of excellence and a home for our community.

“But our building is in need of urgent redevelopment to ensure that it’s not only safe and fit-for-purpose but also a green and inspirational home for our community for the next 40 years and beyond.

“This once-in-a-lifetime project will ensure North Wales retains this vital and financially sustainable resource for future generations.”

Theatr Clwyd was built in 1976 by Clwyd County Council to provide the region with theatre and arts productions.

Although built to modern standards of its time, the last 40 years are said to have taken their toll on the building.

The theatre added: “Our roof leaks, our mechanics and electrics are at the end of life, our audience areas can no longer match the experience of our excellent work on stage, we’ve terrible disabled access, our theatre-making teams work in old and unsuitable facilities and the building doesn’t meet modern health and safety standards.

“While sticking-plaster repairs over the years have seen us through, what has become clear is that our beloved building is not fit for purpose.”

While news of the plans being approved will be welcomed, the theatre is currently facing a more immediate threat to its future.

It has been closed since March due to the coronavirus lockdown with no reopening date in sight as yet.

Last week, representatives told BBC Wales that lockdown had already cost the theatre £1m in turnover.

But executive director Liam Evans-Ford insisted it was in a relatively positive position compared to others.

In a recent interview with The Leader, he said: “Like many businesses the pandemic has had a huge impact. The theatre is, however, in a relatively strong position compared to many other UK theatres.

“Flintshire County Council have been amazing and fully supportive of their cultural and leisure facilities, who normally generate so much of their own income.

“Our audiences have been equally incredible, donating the price of their tickets or crediting their account rather than taking on refunds.

“All these things, alongside the government’s furlough scheme, will ensure that we will open its door to the public for some much-needed entertainment and social interaction as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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