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Cabinet asked to approve five year lease of Swansea Grand Theatre’s arts wing

PART of Swansea’s Grand Theatre could be leased to a race equality organisation to provide space for minority groups and encourage them to participate more in the arts.

Cabinet will be asked to approve a five-year lease of the theatre’s arts wing to Race Council Cymru at a meeting on March 19.

Race Council Cymru would invest £250,00 to create a cultural and digital hub in an arrangement which would save the council money.

The cabinet report said a review of the theatre’s long-term viability had concluded that its environment, programme and commercial opportunities needed “to significantly improve”.

A £135,000 income target for the arts wing, it added, had not been met.

The report also said that the review of the Grand acknowledged the impending presence of the new indoor arena, “so clearly targeting local audiences and establishing a point of differentiation, better utilisation of its community, catering and ancillary spaces, is needed”.

Race Council Cymru plans to work with more than 20 community organisations and promote arts opportunities and activities for black, Asian and minority ethnic residents.

The aim is also to attract disability groups, asylum seekers and young people in care – but all members of the community would be welcome.

Ray Singh, chairman of Race Council Cymru, said: “Our research shows that – although Swansea is a welcoming and tolerant city – members of these communities have reported feeling marginalised, isolated, invisible and undervalued here.

“There’s a need for a welcoming environment, where they can work with each other, with local residents, with the council and others – and the hub will provide that.”

The hub would also lend itself to activities like tai chi, and IT classes, and an ethnic street cafe could be set up there.

The cabinet report added that the proposal was not expected to negatively impact on the limited number of people who used the wing, or the main auditorium.

The main hall hosts comedy, drama, live music and panto.

Last October the council pulled a gig by controversial comedian Roy Chubby Brown, saying it didn’t “reflect its values”.

Speaking ahead of the cabinet meeting, Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, who holds the investment, regeneration and tourism portfolio, said: “It’s right that, with an evolving society and changing cultural needs, the Grand is at the forefront of change.

“In many ways, this project will see the theatre realise the vision we had when we built the arts wing – to have a community arts dimension running comfortably alongside the main programme.”

The indoor arena -a few hundred metres away across Oystermouth Road – is due to open in the summer of 2021.

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