Plans costing £4.5million have been announced for the Muni Arts Centre by the trust taking it over.
Awen Cultural Trust is set to take on the lease of the popular arts centre in Gelliwastad Road and has revealed the plans it has over the next two to three years.
A cabinet report says the council and Awen will be looking to carry out the work needed to re-open the Muni Arts Centre in June 2020 but Awen has also revealed that it has more ambitious longer-term plans for the building.
Richard Hughes, the chief executive of the trust, joined representatives from architects Purcell at the RCT cabinet meeting on Tuesday, December 17, to discuss their plans.
The trust was established in 2015 and already has experience of running cultural services in Bridgend , such as the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl , Maesteg Town Hall, Bryngarw Country Park, Blaengarw Workmen’s Hall and Bridgend’s libraries.
Purcell have been involved in projects including Insole Court in the Llandaff area of Cardiff , Penarth Pier Pavilion, and Cyfarthfa Castle in Merthyr Tydfil.
The plan is to retain and enhance the Muni’s original features and heritage, ensuring it is fit for purpose and meets the local community’s needs.
Awen plans to expose and feature the Gothic architecture for which the building is recognised and listed.
The presentation showed a plan for the building – arranged generally over two halves of the building either side of a foyer/lobby area near the main entrance.
The ground floor plan shows a refurbished main hall area with seating across the entire hall, in front of a stage area.
Dressing rooms would be provided in close proximity to the rear of the stage, with direct access to the stage.
Storage and toilet facilities would be provided backstage while the current corridors would be widened to improve access to the dressing room area.
The new set-up would also enable much-improved access throughout the venues for both audiences and performers.
In the opposite half of the building there would be a main bar area which will be accessible from the foyer and also directly from Gelliwastad Road.
This bar would feature the rose window which is a prominent feature of the building.
On the first floor the plans show a gallery area above the seating in the main hall, with a community space available to let – located above the dressing room area. Above the main bar area will be a mezzanine bar.
Cabinet members give their backing to Awen’s vision
Councillor Rhys Lewis, cabinet member for cultural services labelled the plans “ambitious and very impressive”.
He said: “And why shouldn’t they be? Why shouldn’t we have this sort of superb cultural venue in the valleys?
“There is the potential for the Muni to become an important venue not just for Pontypridd and RCT but for the whole of south Wales. We recognise the place it has in many people’s hearts.”
The leader of the council Councillor Andrew Morgan said their work with Awen had been really positive and that it would be great if they can re-open the building by June next year.
He mentioned concerns that had been raised about the Muni and the YMCA being competitors but said that they were actually becoming complementary to each other.
Cllr Maureen Webber, the deputy leader of the council said: “We don’t want to dwell on the past but we have to look at the mistakes of the past. “The previous lease holders didn’t meet our expectations. it was a great disappointment. None of us wanted to see the closure this building.”
Cllr Heledd Fychan, of Pontypridd Town ward, said it’s “very exciting” as Pontypridd “has been poorer” without the Muni.
She said she’s interested to see how the partnership with Awen will work into the future and raised the opportunities around the Welsh language and health and well being programmes in the building.
Cllr Jayne Brencher of the Graig ward, said she was proud to be a councillor in this chamber. She said these plans for the Muni mean it will something they can be proud of once again adding that it’s part of their arts quarter vision and she thanked Awen for their “confidence and vision.”