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£10m grant funding awarded to Conwy’s theatre

CONWY’S theatre will benefit from £10 million in grant funding.

Venue Cymru has been awarded the cash as part of the UK Government’s Levelling-Up Fund, and the money can only be spent on the Llandudno theatre.

The UK’s Conservative Government announced before Christmas it had set aside £100m for levelling-up culture projects.

The Government has said it has prioritised areas that hadn’t received funding in the past.

Conwy’s leader Cllr Charlie McCoubrey welcomed the grant, which will now be used to renovate and enhance facilities at the Llandudno theatre.

“We are delighted Venue Cymru’s plans to deliver enhanced facilities have been recognised by UK Government as a nationally significant project,” he said.

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“Arts and culture are of huge importance in delivering a positive economic impact and in supporting the well-being of our communities.

“Venue Cymru welcomes visitors from around the UK and internationally every year, delivering over £30m in economic benefit to local businesses as well as offering visitors and our local community an exciting, diverse range of cultural events and activities.”

He added, “We look forward to working with UK Government over the next few weeks to understand the details of the offer and to progress the project to the next stage.”

Conwy’s leader and cabinet have continually criticised the funding formula used by the Labour-led Welsh Government to calculate the funds the local authority receives in its annual local government settlement.

Conwy received the joint lowest settlement in Wales together with Gwynedd – with a rise of just 2% compared to Denbighshire’s 3.7%, leaving the authority millions of pounds in the red before a 9.67% council tax rise and cuts to services.

Cllr Chris Hughes welcomed the investment but admitted the system was broken.

“Conwy has to apply for grant funding. If we didn’t apply for that money, those repairs and that work would have to be paid for out of our revenue budget, and it would mean higher increases to fund that,” he said.

“So it is a double-edged sword. Yes, you think, why don’t they put the money into the budget, but we get two budgets. People don’t realise that. We get a capital budget and a revenue budget, and you can’t generally spend capital on revenue, and government, whether it be UK or Welsh Government, keep money back so they can deliver aspirations by providing capital grants. It has always been the case that we have had to apply for capital grants. It is either we do that to renovate these buildings or we do it out of council tax, which would put even greater pressure on budgets.”

He added, “The system is wrong, and in an ideal world, we would get the revenue we needed without having to make cuts and we would get the capital we need without having to apply for grants, but the reality is that grants are the way that both UK Government and Welsh Government go, and if we didn’t bid for these grants, then these assets would not survive long-term.”