By Rory Sheehan LDRS
THE future of the Stiwt Theatre in Rhos looks more secure as Wrexham Council is set to continue with funding for the next three years.
A decision will be made by the council’s Executive Board at their monthly meeting next week to continue the £30,000 a year support which allows the Stiwt Trust to deliver a programme of Welsh cultural activities.
Funds have been provided to the trust from the council since an agreement in October 2015, which has reduced over time.
A report to be considered by the Executive Board states: “The Stiwt Trust has managed the financial reduction over the years, generating income from other sources to enable them to continue to maintain the building and to provide a wide programme of activities and events; and have continued to maintain this for the previous three years.
“The Trust has requested that the council consider a further funding arrangement at the existing level of £30,433 per annum.”
The report adds: “Continuation of funding at the lowest level of £30,433 will enable the Trust to secure additional funding to retain the building as an active and vibrant community facility, providing a range of Welsh arts and cultural activities and events.
“This figure remains lower than the cost that would be borne by the council of mothballing the building in the event that the Stiwt Trust is unable to retain the lease for the building.
“A further three-year commitment will provide the Stiwt Trustees with the confidence in going forward with a robust and challenging business plan that will provide the best opportunity to enable them to secure additional funds and invest in the Stiwt and its activities for a sustainable future.
“The Stiwt is a Grade II listed building owned by Wrexham Council. The Stiwt Trust holds a 25 year lease and is responsible for repairs and maintenance. The lease was renewed in 2011 and has 15 years left to run.”
The report states that the alternative of stopping funding and closing the building, putting it back in the council’s responsibility, effectively ‘mothballing’ it, had been estimated at almost £47,000.
Speaking at a media briefing ahead of the meeting, lead member for Place and Environment Cllr Hugh Jones (Con) said: “Over the years the Stiwt, working in partnership with the council has made very significant progress in terms of improvements to the building.
“It’s an important part of the Rhos community but there is a bigger picture in terms of the role it plays in our Welsh language and our Welsh culture, and the contribution to our City of Culture bid.
“It is important that we recognise the work that the board of the Stiwt has done and respond accordingly, which gives them stability.
“When I first became involved in our relationship with the Stiwt we were funding them to the tune of almost £100,000 a year, so that shows significant progress has been made over the years.”
Leader of the council, Cllr Mark Pritchard (Ind) added: “It’s a lovely building full of history and character and long may the partnership continue.”
As well as funding from the local authority, Rhos Community Council also provides the Stiwt with financial support of £6,000 per year. The Rhos Housing Estate office will also continue to be based in the building.
The Arts Council Wales continues to provide grant funding too, but this is only for the direct delivery of activities and events and cannot be used as a core income stream.
Wrexham Council’s Executive Board is expected to rubber stamp the funding agreement at its meeting on Tuesday (November 8).