Today Pontio released a statement confirming even more delays to their theatre opening, having cancelled their opening performance “Chwalfa” after postponing it to February last month.
Bangor University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor John G. Hughes said:
“Following detailed discussions with the contractor, and with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, it has become clear that work on the building project is unlikely to be completed in time for us to reschedule Chwalfa in February as originally hoped.” And that he “fully recognises everyone’s disappointment at this news but given the delays in the building schedule to date we have no other choice. We sincerely apologise to the hard-working cast, the crew and our audiences, and we share their disappointment.”
Fortunately all ticket holders will be reimbursed and staff hired by Pontio will continue to be paid despite the building being closed.
Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s artistic director Arwel Gruffydd commented:
We would like to thank the residents of the area for the welcome and support that we recieved. We are looking forward to returning as son as it will be possible. We also wish Pontio every success as they prepare to open their doors and we look forward to visiting the Centre with a wealth of productions in the future”
Amongst the discussion of delays and theatre tickets Pontio, the University and the local media have forgotten that the building is also supposed to be home to Bangor’s Student’s Union. What do these delays mean for us as students? When will someone mention us? With the building opening in phases, and the first phase not yet complete what will this mean for the Union? Will the Union be moved in before next years freshers week?
The original planning application for Pontio was submitted in 2010, the old Students Union demolished the same year and Bangor’s old Theatre closed in 2008. Pontio was originally set to be open in 2012 and now two years later looks to be set back at least another year with at least another years alumni who were promised a proper Student Union building gone. It may come as a surprise to some that the current Student’s Union at Bryn Haul and the current home of Academi were only meant to be stopgaps whilst Pontio was under construction but to most students (including myself) that’s all they’ve ever known.
An old issue of Seren from 2009 reads almost the same as today; students not knowing whats happening with their Union and confusion over what the then £30m (now £44m) construction will mean for them. A BBC news article from 2008 claims that the centre will be open by 2011 and cost between £25 – 30 million. In an old university staff newsletter from 2009 the University can be quoted stating the project to cost £36m and be opened by Spring 2012. Now here we are two years later, £8 million over budget and still as confused as ever.
These delays come at a time of austerity for the University, with all departments being asked to cut back on spending, including with staffing.
Staff have not yet released a new opening date for the arts centre and are currently discussing a new timetable with their contractors.