A FLINTSHIRE theatre director is hopeful that people will be eager to return to venues when it becomes possible later this spring.

Speaking with the Leader, Liam Evans-Ford of at Theatr Clwyd, explained how he is hopeful for the future of theatre in north East Wales as the pandemic starts to ease.

The venue’s executive director said: “Theatre is one of the industries that has been hit hard by the pandemic, obviously large indoor gatherings have not been possible in most cases.

“I’m pleased we do have a date from Welsh Government [WG] for reopening of May 17.

"It is a real shift in understanding by WG and Public Health Wales on how safely we can operate within COVID restrictions and social distancing.”

He explained how Theatr Clwyd has recently announced their new summer season and making use of the open-air outdoor stage space for maximum safety.

He added: “Tickets have only just gone on sale to our theatre members – they will be on sale to the general public next week – and the response so far has been really positive.

“The interest levels so far have been on par with pre-pandemic. I think the appetite is huge and I hope people trust us enough to know that we will be doing everything possible to keep everyone that comes to the venue safe.

“The social experience of the theatre is something I think we are all craving, a bit of normality.

“Whether your thing is music, comedy, sports or classical – we want to get back to doing it. And, looking at interest from what we have put out so far, I think the industry is in for a massive boom.”

He also spoke about the ambitious plans to reimagine the facility.

The 45-year-old venue is set to be extensively refurbished - along with significant improvements to ensure that this 'once-in-a-lifetime' project will see a greener, more energy efficient building.

The Leader:

Work to redevelop the theatre site is hoped to go ahead in 2022. [Image: Concept Design by Howarth Tompkins]

Amongst many other things, improvements to the building will include:

• Greener, more energy efficient building enabling large savings on gas, electricity and water costs

• Therapeutic sensory garden and children’s creative playground.

• New youth hub to provide a safe, creative space for rehearsing, meeting and relaxing – a place for young people to call their own.

• New rehearsal, teaching and instrument storage spaces for Youth Music in Flintshire Flintshire Music Service.

• The bar and box office will be reimagined, full height glass windows will give spectacular views with access to an outdoor terrace and new public areas will be accessible to everyone.

• An indoor play area and buggy park.

• A new viewing gallery will invite public and staff to see sets being built and painted.

• Quadruple the number of toilets in the building - including more accessible toilets and shared toilets/family rooms with changing facilities.

He said: “COVID has delayed the process somewhat, not least because of the funding from WG that is required for the project.

“We are now in receipt of that WG money because they realised how important a project this is nationally to secure the future of Theatr Clwyd as a building.

“It is all progressing quite well, we’ve got the resubmission of planning in because some of the designs changed from what was approved in 2019. All being well, we’re hoping to start work on site next year.

“We are just going through the due diligence process with WG to receive the next stage of funding. We would hope that later in the year we will have secured a major investment for North East Wales towards Theatr Clwyd.”