Newtown College (part of NPTC Group of Colleges), welcomed local Conservative MP for Montgomeryshire, Craig Williams to Theatre Hafren earlier this month to discuss current issues and concerns in the theatre sector as a result of the pandemic.
The Theatre is a valuable asset to the local community and indeed the College, providing arts and drama facilities and venue.
The MP was met by College Manager Steve Cass and Theatre Manager Sara Clutton who led the discussions on the issues facing the theatre and described their current creative ways of working during this period.
Sara spoke of how the creative industry plays an important part in the local community and outlined the current financial impact the restrictions have had on the Theatre. Theatre Hafren can stake a claim as being one of the least subsidised in Wales and therefore the has been hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis. Sara also spoke of the repercussions for entertainers, customers, and staff.
Theatre Hafren has also found ways to adapt and Sara was pleased to report on the many ways it has continued to reach out to the community. Community engagement activities have been moved online, creating a Hafren@Home sub-brand providing art, singing, rhythm, and dance workshops. The online activities have opened up to new audiences, boasting online participants as far afield as Canada and the Far East. Theatre Hafren has also created a newsletter for keeping the community informed, united, and whilst helping to combat social isolation.
Theatre Hafren has also provided important and vital community provisions and offered its facilities to Powys Teaching Health Board for a mobile testing unit and blood services.
Craig Williams MP said:
“It’s wonderful to hear how Newtown arts and drama centre is dealing with COVID-19. Arts, drama, and music are all vital parts of the socioeconomic structure and they are going through a particularly difficult time at the moment.”
He went on to say that he had spoken out in a recent debate in the House of Commons, raising support for both Mid Wales Music Centre and Theatre Hafren, and calling for the UK and Welsh Governments to work together to support these important community assets. He confirms he will also continue to press for support for these businesses.
The MP concluded by saying: “It is hugely important that we support our creative industries during this pandemic, Theatre Hafren, Newtown is an important part of the local community.”