Committed to inspiring creativity, enabling potential and promoting social cohesion through cultural expression.
What we want to do (updated!)
We believe there is a need for a medium-sized space in Barry where the community can come together for activities as varied as theatre, Welsh and other adult learning classes, exhibitions, artist work and exhibition space, conferences, dance events, comedy, functions, rehearsal space – and much more.
Canolfan Porthceri Centre would provide a home for the arts and the Welsh language in Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan within a landmark building. It would be a vibrant cultural and community destination offering an extensive cultural and arts programme in partnership with community groups, educational organisations and businesses, and attracting both local audiences and international visitors.
We originally aimed to establish a cultural centre in the Porthkerry Road Methodist Church building, which dates from 1898 and is Grade II listed. We had the architect’s plans which were drawn up in 1996 to convert the main church space into two levels. This would mean the construction of a mezzanine floor, retaining the upper area for all sorts of performances, events and functions, and fashioning the lower floor into a suite of multi-functional rooms.
In the spring of 2011 an offer to buy Porthkerry Road Methodist Church was made, and this was accepted by the Church authorities. While this was a big disappointment to us, it merely meant that we were looking for a new home for our vision. There were two obvious possibilities remaining – the old Hydraulic Pumphouse on the dock, and Windsor Road United Reformed Church which is situated across the road from Porthkerry Road Church.
Both locations were investigated, but the Pumphouse, while having some good features, would just require too much money to be spent on it to be viable. Windsor Road, by contrast, was in good condition, and was already providing a home to some of the sort of activities that we wish to promote. Although Windsor Road Church itself is slightly smaller than Porthkerry Road Church, the wealth of other meeting and activity rooms (“the Schoolrooms”) made it very suitable for our needs – better in many ways than Porthkerry Road.
So, since the spring of 2011 we have been concentrating on our business plan, centred on Windsor Road United Reformed Church.
In June 2011 we submitted an application to the Barry Regeneration Board for support from the £9M regeneration money that has been allocated to Barry.
We asked the regeneration board for £830,000. This is a large sum, but the equally large sums that the vale council had already been allocated for refurbishment of playgrounds was a factor in the figure – we decided that we should apply for a realistic figure that would allow a proper facility to be established. Nearly half of the sum was the asking price for Windsor Road URC. Some £80,000 was a guess for “compliance works” – things that we would need to do to meet the regulations that would be heaped upon us. A similar sum was for two sprung dance floors. The remaining 30% was for refurbishing, redecorating and equipping the spaces (especially the main theatre space).
We KNOW that we could dramatically reduce these figures.
The work on this document will also be used to form the basis of submissions to other potential funders. For example, we hope that the money that has been diverted to fund the 2012 London Olympics will start becoming more widely available again. A big problem with these applications is that until we obtain a building for a base, many funders will not consider supporting us!
We have also considered a variety of other potential venues, including Porthkerry Road Methodist Church, the pumphouse on the dock, the Magistrates Court, Royal Hotel in Cadoxton, the Caravan Centre / Ski Lodge on Cardiff Road, Torque Tools in Park Crescent, and even Barry Island Junior School. We compared aspects including the location, parking, proximity to neighbours, suitability of the spaces, conversion costs, and acquisition costs. Although many of these premises are “not on the market”, the main outcome from the exercise was the realisation that although other possible homes for the Canolfan Porthceri Centre do exist, they are all vastly more expensive, either to procure, convert, or both.
Canolfan Porthceri Centre
Now Planning for “Over The Road”!
At the end of July 2011 we were informed that our application was a “maybe”. The Welsh Assembly had restructured how the £9M would be distributed, with the result that only £2.5M would be available for the 2011-12 financial year. Most of the 2011-12 money had been allocated to various projects, but there were hopes that a very small sum could be made available from the regeneration fund to help support our case.
Unfortunately, this did not come to pass.
How we’re going to do it
We need to raise the purchase price of the building and the refurbishment or rebuilding costs.
We are in discussions with a range of funders and governmental bodies to further the project. A provisional application to the Lottery Fund was approved, although currently most of these funds are being spent in London on the 2012 Olympic Games. Hopefully after summer 2012 some of these funds will become available again, and we will be submitting a full proposal. As we build partners in the project we will attract further funds. The outcome is by no means certain but as a team we have committed ourselves to doing what it takes to make the idea we believe in a reality.
We are passionate about the value of this project for Barry and the Vale and with YOUR support and help we will succeed.
How you can help with the project
You can help in lots of practical ways: volunteers are always welcome!
- Join our FaceBook group and ask your friends and family to join as well.
- Follow us on Twitter.
- Join our friends scheme (when we start it).
- Fill in our on-line questionnaire – it should only take a few minutes and will provide guidance for us, and evidence of the public support for the project.
- Support our events (details on the Blog)
- Write letters and emails of support – we’ll be adding information on this later.
- Offer your expertise and professional advice. We are currently “picking the brains” of accountants, lawyers, company advisers, charity workers, architects, planners, and potential Porthceri Users.
- Run an event of your own – get in touch if you want to do this.
- Speak to us if you think that you or your organisation would like to make use of the proposed centre. We are keen to contact potential partners and users, as it all helps strengthen our case.
Gallery – Porthkerry Road Church
Our original inspiration for the Porthceri Arts Centre
Gallery – Windsor Road United Reformed Church
The current focus of our efforts for the Porthceri Arts Centre