Next steps for the Muni Arts Centre after funding is secured
Written by Gavin on 8th November 2021
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has secured £5.3m funding for its exciting plans to revitalise the Muni Arts Centre with Awen Cultural Trust.
Proposals to refurbish the much-loved Muni, and secure the building’s future in partnership with charitable organisation Awen, were approved by Cabinet Members in late 2019. The scheme aims to secure the Grade II Listed building’s heritage and celebrate its stunning gothic architecture – while re-establishing the Muni as a unique local venue for regional arts and music.
Following a successful bid from the Council, it was announced on October 27 that £5.3m has been secured for the project from UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
The Council is now in the process of finalising a 30-year leasehold transfer of the building to Awen, as both organisations work collaboratively to deliver the project. This joint approach will ensure the Muni is successfully brought back into use as a cultural venue with a commercially robust and viable future.
The project will deliver a venue that offers music, event cinema, theatre, bar facilities and a new social space which will support the leisure and night-time economy. It will also create flexible community facilities to maximise use of the space.
The refurbished Muni will be fully-accessible and inclusive, and will include a registered Changing Place toilet. The building will be future-proofed to ensure sustainability – designed to increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions.
The Council has already invested almost £400,000 to the Muni over the past year, using Welsh Government support to deliver enabling and preparatory works to the building. This has ensured the project’s main phase will be able to begin as quickly as possible following completion of the leasehold transfer.
The building will then go straight into the redevelopment phase, in order to meet the delivery timescales associated with the Levelling Up Fund.
Councillor Rhys Lewis, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Well-being and Cultural Services, said: “These are very exciting times for the Muni, with £5.3m external funding now secured to ensure the Council’s plans, in partnership with Awen Cultural Trust, become a reality. Our vision is to restore the Muni back to being a much-loved arts venue at the heart of Pontypridd with increased functions for the community, and also reinstating it as a cultural hub for the region.
“Keeping residents up-to-date and listening to their views have been important aspects in the design of the Muni redevelopment. The Council and Awen undertook an extensive consultation from October 2020 to January 2021 – asking residents to share their memories of the Muni while also presenting the proposals for the building and allowing residents to have their say in a survey.
“We will continue to work closely with Awen to progress the project as quickly as possible. Once the leasehold transfer is complete, we’ll soon be able to start improvement works to the building. Awen has an excellent track record in operating and improving Grade II Listed buildings such as Maesteg Town Hall and the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl – which is what we want to replicate with the Muni in order to preserve its stunning gothic architecture.
“The Council will keep the community up-to-date as we reach various landmarks of the redevelopment in the future – particularly as progress is made on site with transforming the building in the months ahead.”
Richard Hughes, Chief Executive of Awen Cultural Trust, added: “Thanks to the news of this much welcomed funding, Pontypridd and the surrounding areas will benefit from a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore and re-develop the Muni. It will cement its place as one of South Wales’ highest quality music and event venues, supporting professional and community-based artists across the region, and making it a destination of choice that complements the heritage and growing offer of Pontypridd as a town.
“We are looking forward to working in partnership with Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council to realise this ambition over the coming months and years, and further engaging with local people and groups as our plans develop.”