Why the redevelopment?
Doing nothing was not an option. Without investment, it was anticipated the deteriorating structure would cause the venue to close for good. A European funding opportunity means that this is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to do something about it.
Do we really need the redevelopment?
Yes. Maesteg Town Hall is the heart of cultural and social life in the Llynfi Valley, and we’re committed to ensuring a successful future as a theatre, events venue and cultural hub fit for the 21st century. The Town Hall previously welcomed around 30,000 visits a year and the redevelopment gives us the opportunity to grow this number substantially. The project will also sustain our much-valued public libraries with their 50,000 annual visits.
What are the key areas and benefits of the redevelopment?
No part of our redevelopment is for the sake of it; every change fixes a problem or enhances a feature. The re-development will promote better access, improved performance facilities, cinema provision and community spaces. All this is achieved by restoring and preserving the Town Hall’s heritage.
Foyer: At present Maesteg Town Hall has no space for reception facilities or a foyer, meaning that tickets often can’t be bought on site, and that audiences sometimes have to wait in the cramped entranceway or even outside for doors to open. The plan for our venue’s transformation provides a spacious foyer with a café, reception, seating and ticket service points, ensuring a more practical welcome and a more pleasant experience.
Access: We are committed to improving access into Maesteg Town Hall for all. Under the Disability Discrimination Act there is also a legal duty to improve access as part of redevelopment. The Hall is a Grade II listed building and as such there is a limit to the structural changes that can be undertaken, as this will change the character of the building. By adding an extension, it enables the installation of a new passenger lift at our main entrance, making it easier for wheelchair users, people with mobility issues or parents and carers with pushchairs to enjoy all the Hall has to offer, in the same way that non-disabled users can, with access to the foyer and library level, and the studio and Hall itself. Lifts and ramps will also ensure access to other, currently, inaccessible areas of the building. E.g. back-stage.
There will also be fully accessible toilets and changing spaces.
Studio: As well as large scale productions and music events, Maesteg Town Hall hosts many smaller events such as afternoon plays and children’s shows which are unsuited to the vast space of the Hall itself. An important part of the redevelopment is the construction of a smaller, adaptable 60 – 80 seat studio perfect for smaller events and cinema screenings, allowing a more versatile programme of events.
Library: Maesteg is currently in the unusual situation of having two libraries at two sites due to lack of space. This renovation is as much a transformation of the Llynfi Valley’s Library Service as it is the Hall itself, providing a new, unified, modern library with conference rooms, IT suite and an exhibition area in the space below the hall. The Hall will also host the county borough’s heritage and Local Studies collections.
For how long will the Town Hall be closed?
Work began in November 2019 with the decommissioning of the Hall. Global events have effected the work plan, however the contractors are aiming to hand back the keys later this year, with the doors reopening in 2023.
What are you doing with the fixtures and fittings inside the Hall?
Many of the fixtures and fittings that can not be re-used have been donated to local societies, establishments and clubs, such as Maesteg Welfare Park, Llangynwyd Village Hall and local rugby and cricket clubs.
What is happening to the Christopher Williams paintings which are in the Hall?
Our six magnificent Christopher Williams portraits are being cleaned, restored, glazed and will be returned to us. They will be displayed in the Auditorium with improved lighting and interpretation. Awen has also been loaned an additional Christopher Williams painting, which has been restored and will also be displayed in the Town Hall.
Will there be any events during the closure period?
We are putting on a range of events during the redevelopment, including our programme of outdoor events at Maesteg Welfare Park. We’ll also keep you updated via our mailing list, social media and website, and would love for you to keep in contact with us about the sort of events you want to see at your Town Hall.
We are also be working to gather stories, memories and information to support the interpretation of the Hall to a wider audience.
Will the heating/cooling within the Hall be improved?
The heating systems in the Hall will be thoroughly modernised making them adaptable to the various events taking place in the different parts of the venue, such as the main hall, studio, foyer and library.
Will there be new seating in the Hall?
Yes, the Hall will be fitted with new seating in the main auditorium, balcony and studio.
Will redevelopment make a difference to programming?
Yes. The improved equipment, stage and backstage facilities will be more popular with performers and companies - improvements in technical facilities will mean we can host some new shows we haven't previously been able to due to the limitations of the sound and lighting. Importantly, the Hall will be able to retain its growing reputation as a venue in South Wales.
Will this mean bigger and better shows?
The Maesteg Town Hall project will be the single biggest financial investment in public facilities in the Llynfi Valley for years. The high profile of the building will be attractive to companies and promoters - in the last five years, the venue has already secured a number of high-profile acts such as Rob Beckett and Thunder so has already established itself as a popular arts and events venue.
Will you be showing films?
It is planned that we will be cinema screenings in the Studio which will be a new space in addition to the main hall. The programme in the Studio will be mixed with live performances, smaller shows and cinema - it is not our intention to run the cinema aspect on a first release basis but will consider this depending on the title and availability of the space. Our aim is to provide affordable alternatives for local people. We will be looking to have a regular programme of live cinema and broadcasts such as National Theatre Live, the Met Opera and shows from the West End.
Will this redevelopment mean increased ticket prices?
Ticket prices will not increase as a direct result of the re-development. Ticket prices are usually set by the promoter so historically, this has not been a decision that has been made by the venue - this will continue to be the case going forward. We will be introducing banded seating prices to make tickets more affordable where we can, particularly for children and family shows.
Will the pricing still be affordable for user groups to hire the Town Hall?
The Town Hall has always been and will always be a community venue first and foremost. We can’t wait to welcome back our user groups who are at the heart of what we do. Whilst prices may vary from pre-closure levels due to inflation, there is no intention to deliberately price user groups out of the market. Once pries have been agreed they will be presented to the user groups. As a welcome back, prices from 2018 have been frozen for user groups’ first event back.
Will you be offering a membership scheme?
We will be rolling out a membership scheme during the redevelopment to support Maesteg Town Hall’s charitable aims and objectives - membership will include benefits such as regular updates and priority bookings to shows when they go on sale.
Can I volunteer at the Hall when it reopens?
Volunteering will play a big part in the Hall’s future. We want people to have opportunities to engage with the Hall in a number of capacities. Awen are looking to roll out opportunities to volunteer at all its venues - please see social media and updates to follow as we look to engage community users in supporting their new venue.
How will the glass extension be kept clean?
There is a maintenance plan in place, and there will be access to all glazed areas meaning the entire structure can be cleaned regularly.
Will the sprung dance floor be retained?
The floor isn’t technically a sprung floor, the timber had a natural spring to it. Unfortunately it has been sanded so many times over the years that it is now extremely thin, and would need to be replaced approximately within a year of reopening so we are taking the chance to replace it now.
Will the stage be lowered, and if so, how will it affect sightlines?
The floor has been taken back down to its original height, so it will be about 6 inches lower. This is to enable flat access from backstage. However, there will now be raked seating in the auditorium so the majority of the audience will be looking down at the stage.
Public transport finishes at 10.30pm so people struggle to get home after events at the Town Hall. Is there anything that can be done about this?
Most shows tend to finish before 10pm, however will take into account public transport when we are programming and setting start times.