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Stiwt to get three year council funding commitment – plus capital grant to help repair work

Councillors will likely green light a £30k a year grant to the Stiwt Theatre in Rhos for the next three years, to help the Stiwt Trust deliver their programme of arts and cultural activities in the council owned building.

Back in 2015 councillors agreed to cut funding by 20% down to a £30,433 figure from an earlier £74,300 sum. In effect the cut has now stopped, with the stabilised £30k sum to be ongoing for three years.

Wrexham Council has noted that self generated income by the Stiwt is higher than expected, and thus the earlier decreases in funding have been ‘managed’.

The report notes: “Over the course of the last 18 years the funding arrangement has varied in accordance with the varying financial position of the Stiwt and the Council’s priorities to fund Welsh cultural activities in the County Borough. The financial position of the Stiwt Trust has been ‘fragile’ during this time. However, with the recruitment of a new Manager in 2015 and more stability in membership on the Stiwt Board the financial reduction from the Council has been managed well and presents a confident situation moving forward for being able to sustain the building and a programme of activities at this reduced level.”

Mothballing the building had been previously considered in the event the council was unable to provide further funding, which would have cost £40,760. Therefore the £30,433 contribution is also seen as also providing a saving for what would otherwise be an additional cost without the wider social benefits.

In April 2016 a property condition survey identified a five year investment programme costed at £441,978. A programme of repairs for 2018-19 has been identified and budgeted at £100,000 with the Trust securing funding of £75,401. As a result a one off capital grant will also take place from the council’s Heritage and Well-being Capital Fund of £25,000 to make up the difference.

The report explains the £25k has been freed up “Due to a re-profile of funding in the Councils Heritage and Community Well-being Capital fund, £25,000 originally earmarked for Wrexham Museum is now available this year and can be used for this purpose.”

The report states: “The Stiwt Trust continue each year to seek funding to undertake the repairs and have secured £70,401 towards the £100,000 required. £25,401 has been raised through fund raising activities, and £50,000 has been secured from CADW to undertake repairs including the Clock Turret, external wales and rainwater drains, Windows and Roof and the Auditorium celling. The conditions of the Cadw grant require a 50% match from the applicant, therefore in order to draw down the full Cadw grant there is a shortfall of £30,000.”

Cllr Hugh Jones noted the outstanding works includes a replacement fire escape, which will allow a rarely used room to come back into use, and also add to the revenue generating capabilities of the centre.

In 2014 the Rhos Estate Office was relocated into the Stiwt with rent ‘at market value’ being paid from the Housing Revenue account, and it appears there is intent to extend that for a further three years as well as it is a ‘suitable’ location to continue to deliver local housing services from.

Cllr Pritchard noted the work the local community council had done over the years, adding he was ‘so pleased’ that the report had come forward, adding: “We need to understand this is community building, for community of rhos, and the wider area.”

Ian Bancroft, Wrexham’s Chief Executive, said the report was ‘really positive’, “The biggest issue in facilities like these is the maintenance of buildings. Trustees play their part, but on bigger substantive costs that is where Wrexham Council can play our role.”

The full report will be considered by councillors on Tuesday.

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