Merthyr Tydfil could soon become a hub of live music, comedy, food and arts — with plans to transform the town centre’s derelict Rugby Club into a vibrant new entertainment venue.

Local entrepreneur, Jorge D’ascencao, last week revealed ambitious plans for the site — which will re-open as ‘Clwb Crown’ in August 2022.

Set to welcome a top-secret line up of world-famous artists, the transformative project has been made possible by an investment from the Transforming Towns Placemaking scheme, in conjunction with Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.

The 700-person Clwb will become the highest capacity venue in the Heads of the Valleys region, comprising a coffee, wine and tapas bar on one side and a high-spec performance space on the other — to accommodate theatre, dance, comedy and live music.

What’s more, the venue will also offer spaces for community collaboration in the town centre, including rehearsal spaces for amateur dramatic companies and choirs, exhibition rooms for artists and modern meeting places for other local groups.

The arrival of Clwb Crown forms a small but significant part of the council’s wider masterplan — which aims to transform Merthyr Tydfil into a tourism capital of the Valleys by 2034.

Originally hailing from Portugal, the project’s driving force, Jorge D’ascencao, is well-known in the Merthyr Tydfil region for his transformation of the New Crown in 2011 — a formerly derelict pub turned must-visit location for music-lovers and foodies in the town centre.

With artist’s impressions released today, it’s hoped that Jorge’s latest project will help to further enhance the offer of the town centre, creating new jobs and a safe, attractive space for people in the local community to socialise, work and relax.

The 1,000 square metre building will offer refreshments at every time of day — from high-end morning coffees to take-away lunches and Portuguese-inspired dinner service, with thanks to Jorge’s wife, Fatima.

Jorge said: “Our aim is to create the presence of a modern entertainment, music & arts space for the people of Merthyr Tydfil — whether they’re popping in for a morning coffee before work, visiting an art exhibition with a friend or joining us for tapas and live music on a Friday night. It’s all about creating a new social hub for Merthyr Tydfil and bringing people together.”

With a line-up of top name performers and bands set to be announced in coming months, it’s hoped that Clwb Crown will also have a positive impact on the town’s status as a musical hub.

Jorge added: “We hope that Clwb Crown will further support the grassroots music scene in Merthyr Tydfil, contributing to the talent pipeline by offering a literal stage for new acts as well as jobs and upskilling opportunities for musicians and technical staff alike.”

Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Transformation and Commercialisation, Cllr Geraint Thomas, said: “Starting life as an RAF Association building in 1978 and later becoming home to the old Merthyr Tydfil Rugby Club, this venue was a hive of activity for decades. So, after years of dereliction we are thrilled to be restoring life back into this wonderful building.

Clwb Crown will house a new cultural offer in Merthyr Tydfil — bringing with it a sense of pride for locals and newfound interest for tourists from the wider Valleys, Cardiff and beyond. It’s all part of the council’s overarching vision for the town — which will see us work with strategic partners, local groups, residents and businesses to complement existing assets with high quality properties and services; enhance the town’s already powerful sense of community; and create a local economy which provides opportunities for all to flourish.

Clwb Crown is just one development which residents can expect to see in coming months, with multiple exciting projects on the horizon for 2022.”