The last remaining theatre in the Rhondda Fach has been rescued from closure after one woman risked her career to save it, along with the support of Meadow Prospect, the charity set up by RCT Homes.
Rebecca Sullivan, 32, from Cwmaman came to work at the Grade II listed Tylorstown Welfare Hall nine years ago. She was working as a Community Development Manager for Communities First which was based in the building. When she first saw the Hall, its state of disrepair came as a shock to Rebecca.
“I walked into the building and I thought – Wow! I really didn’t know if I wanted to work here,” Rebecca said. “It is a huge building – a former theatre with a cinema screen, bar and function rooms as well as office space. But it was in a bad state and seemed as though no money had touched it for years. The building needed a lot of work and was really run down.”
Seven years on the organisational structure of Communities First changed and Rebecca’s role was moved to a new location.
Eighty years since it first opened its doors the Hall faced closure as there was no-one left to look after the running of the building.
“I took a huge risk and made the decision to stay here and look after the building,” Rebecca explained. “People said I was stupid to give up a guaranteed job and leave a career of twelve years in youth and community work. But I had grown attached to the building when I worked here. I could see the potential years ago.”
Rebecca worked for free for the first month until securing a grant to pay her salary until December 2013. Since taking over the management of the hall Rebecca has put on sell-out shows, children’s clubs, training and social events and over 1,000 local people pass through the doors every month.
Rebecca has since been working with the regeneration charity Meadow Prospect to restore the Hall to its former glory. Meadow Prospect works with businesses who want to give something back to communities and has secured the support of businesses who provided surveys, asbestos reports and architectural drawings – work worth over £15,000 – all for free. The Hall is now at a point where it is ready for renovation, once funding becomes available.
Meadow Prospect was set up in 2008 by RCT Homes, the housing organisation based in the south Wales valleys. The charity works within communities to support a variety of projects that support local regeneration including environmental improvements, employment and training programmes.
“Without Meadow Prospect’s knowledge and contacts I couldn’t have persuaded these businesses to get involved and give their time for free. I wouldn’t know where to start.
“Working with Meadow Prospect has put us in a position where we know what needs doing and we can apply for the right funding to get the renovation underway and put Tylorstown back on the map.”
Lynsey Holley Matthews, Meadow Prospect’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, said,
“Rebecca is passionate, driven and committed to Tylorstown and its Welfare Hall. The building itself is beautiful with so much potential for the future – with office space and training rooms as well as the entertainment side.
“Meadow Prospect creates a link between important projects and businesses who want to give something back to the community. Tylorstown is a great example of how businesses donating their skills and expertise can make a huge difference to the future of a community.”