A £1 million plan to revamp Abergavenny’s Borough theatre was discussed by councillors at a meeting on Thursday September 23.
Members of Monmouthshire’s cabinet have endorsed investment in the Borough Theatre to secure the future of the town’s much-loved amenity.
The county council met yesterday (September 23) to consider the recommendation, which ensures the theatre will offer a suitable venue for future generations as well as making it an attractive option for current user groups and theatre-goers.
Members of A4B theatre group acknowledged the Borough Theatre is a well-used community and civic asset.
Liz Davies, A4B chairman said: ‘‘We are very pleased to hear that MCC has been able to secure the funding for the refurbishment of the Borough Theatre. We look forward to engaging with them in the hope that Abergavenny’s amateur theatre companies will be able to return to their home and continue to have a voice in its future.” Liz Davies, A4B chairman.
The council acknowledges the theatre is in need of significant investment if it is to realise its potential.
Located in an iconic Grade II listed building, the theatre is a long established and high-profile venue but the structure, layout and the lighting and heating systems are outdated, while facilities for customers like toilets, the bar, foyer and seating fail to meet current standards.
The venue is under-utilised, particularly in the daytime and it faces increased competition from other local and regional theatre and arts centres in addition to the threat of reduced public sector funding.
The investment programme seeks to ensure the theatre is an accessible, professional, artistic amenity that alongside the recently refurbished library, community learning space and market, provides northern Monmouthshire and further afield with an exciting and realistic cultural focus.
It also recognises that refurbishment will enable the theatre’s team to build a sustainable business model.
The forecast expenditure for the total project is £1,042,000 and £314,000 of the amount - offered by the Arts Council for Wales and money from Monmouthshire’s capital budget – has already been confirmed. In addition, funding of £450,000 – from the Welsh Government and Monmouthshire’s Transforming Towns and Access for All budgets is set for confirmation, leaving a gap of £278,000 to be determined.
An extraordinary meeting on Wednesday September 15 between the county council and Abergavenny Town Council discussed the possibility of some further funding towards the project. The town council confirmed its desire to help, acknowledging however that it needs to be in a clear financial position to afford it and will consider the matter at its Policy and Resources Committee before making a decision.
Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “The Borough Theatre has a long and proud record of promoting the arts in Monmouthshire and it delivers a wide range of entertainment on a regular basis while enjoying well-established and loyal support from the public. Our aim is to ensure the refurbishment of the theatre so that it remains at the forefront of arts provision for many years to come, serving as a cultural hub for the whole of the county.”
Meanwhile, the public are invited to support the Borough Theatre by adopting a seat or making a donation. Councillor Dymock added: “Adopting a seat is a personal way of displaying support for the theatre’s exciting future with options available for six or ten years. It can be a wonderful way to commemorate a friend or loved one. The Borough also welcomes donations to help bring this iconic listed building up to modern theatre standards.”