Llantarnam Grange to consolidate position as regional centre for arts

A Cwmbran charity is poised to cement its position as a regional centre for contemporary arts in South East Wales following refurbishments worth £100,000.

As well as revamping its café and extending its outdoor dining area, Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre has also improved its craft shop, along with its meeting and conference facilities.

The work, which is aimed at boosting income to allow the centre to expand its  dynamic and innovative  exhibitions programme, was carried out with an award of almost £70,000 from the EU-backed South East Wales Community Economic Development (SEWCED) programme.

Supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and run by a six-Valleys local authorities’ consortium of Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Torfaen, SEWCED has invested £8.9m in 126 social enterprises since it began in 2010, helping to create 22 social enterprises and 123 full-time jobs.

Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre is housed in what was originally a 19th century Victorian manor house.  A registered charity, the centre curates, hosts and  tours exhibitions of applied art by local, national and international artists. The centre also provides extensive education opportunities for schools, colleges and members of the public. 

“Our aim is to help develop an understanding of the arts at an early age, and to provide a learning resource that gives everyone an opportunity to become actively engaged with their visual and cultural heritage,” said Director Hywel Pontin.

“This refurbishment project has led to an increase in the number of staff we employ and will further lead to an indirect increase in the potential for local makers to sell more work and develop their employment prospects.”

Improvements to the café storage and preparation areas and the installation of new kitchen and catering equipment is allowing the centre to diversify the produce made in-house, extend its menu range and investigate opportunities for outside catering and supplying other venues.  

The display and storage areas in the craft shop have also been improved, while the entrance to the front of the Grange has been re-paved and banners and sails erected to create a focal point leading to the building.

The conferencing and room hire facilities now have new lighting, seating, furniture, screens and projectors.  “We’ll be able to provide the community and business sectors with a value for money opportunity to hold events in a unique setting with exceptional transport and communication links,” Hywel Pontin added.

“We’re extremely grateful for the SEWCED support, which is helping our goal of cementing our position as the regional centre for the applied arts in South East Wales and an important part of the local and regional economy.”

Torfaen Council Social Enterprise Grants Manager Samantha Sollis said: “Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre is proving to be a valued and significant cultural asset and this project will help it increase its income, allocate more money to its charitable activities and have a sustainable future.”