an empty theatre and stage
A stock photo of a theatre stage (Photo by Envato Elements licence)

A Cwmbran community councillor said discussions over whether or not to award a grant to a Cwmbran youth theatre group were becoming a ‘dog’s breakfast‘.

Cllr Stuart Ashley, Mount Pleasant Ward, used the term during a meeting of Cwmbran Community Council’s Grants to Voluntary Organisations Committee last Tuesday evening.

The Congress Youth Theatre applied for £4,000 as a contribution towards the group’s 2024 production costs which include £2,300 for “technical equipment & technicians”, £1,835 for “set designer & costs”, and £1,500 for theatre hire.

During discussions, councillors wanted to clarify if a community council’s grant could be used towards “wages” as staff costs for “technicians” and a “set designer” were mentioned in the application form.

The community council provides an annual “core funding” grant to the Congress Theatre to help with its annual running costs. Councillors wanted to know how their “core” grant was used and to find out the link between the youth group and the theatre to make sure this new grant couldn’t be seen as “double funding”.

Cllr Ashley took part in the meeting through video and when he was able to speak he was “irritated” at the committee’s discussion.

He told them they funded the theatre’s core activities which meant they (the community council) did not provide any money to the Congress Youth Theatre’s activities.

And when it came to grant’s being used for paying “wages”, he said they had previously funded “wages” at the Cwmbran Big Event, for example, so he saw no difference here. He pointed out that the theatre does not employ technicians or set designers, both needed for any production, so the youth theatre had to buy in that expertise.

Cllr Ashley said they were making a “dog’s breakfast” of the decision.

Councillors agreed they needed a “lot of info” and asked the clerk to contact the theatre to clarify the questions they had raised.