The Blackwood Miners’ Institute is preparing to open from September 17. The venue has played a major role in the life of the people of Wales over the last 96 years. From its original purpose in 1925 as a snooker hall, owned by the Coal Industry and Social Welfare Organisation the ‘Stute’ has developed in to the entertainment venue and place for community groups to meet that is so valued today.
When it closed its doors due to the pandemic on 17th March 2020 it left a big hole in the lives of many. But with restrictions easing, the venue is getting ready to open its doors once again exactly 18 months later on September 17th to the delight of many theatre goers, visiting companies, artists and community groups as well as the venue team itself.
Events planned for the first few months include music and entertainment designed to throw off the cobwebs of the last year and a half and reintroduce the thrill of a live performance or arts experience in to people’s lives.
Word, Art, Music, an evening of discussion and art with a local poet, artist and musician will be the first event when the venue reopens. An evening with Welsh singer, song writer and broadcaster Mal Pope and a dementia friendly lunchtime concert with Lee Gilbert and musicians can also be enjoyed at the venue in the opening month. Tribute act Viva Neil Diamond, Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra, international drag queen Ceri Dupree, folk singer Grace Petri and Live Radio Show Astrid Price Investigates are just some of the acts in the line-up for the months ahead with a date for comedian Ed Byrne already planned for next year. Children’s and family shows are also planned. This Island’s Mine and Three Sunsare coming to the venue as well as Welsh Wrestling to entertain younger audiences. Christmas will also see the return of panto with the classic fairy tale and pantomime favourite Cinderella, directed and starring entertainer Owen Money MBE. Owen Money is also on the bill for March next year entertaining in Juke Box Heroes III, an event originally scheduled for 2020 and a hugely popular evening of music at the venue.
Until then BMI are hosting an outdoor theatre experience for families at Parc Cwm Darran during August, The Great Adventure of Olive and Eira:Theatre in The Wild, an audio adventure with free activities included.
Marina Newth, Venue Manager said, “As with all arts venues and organisations this has been a very different and unprecedented time for us. Whilst we have remained closed we have been looking forward and preparing for the future and learning and developing news skills along the way that enable us to communicate with the people that use the building whether that is for a dance rehearsal or seeing a play in the auditorium. Whilst there will be some plans in place to incorporate a new way of enjoying events in the theatre in Wales such as using a one way system to enter and exit, pre ordering drinks at the bar and mask wearing in communal areas until further notice, the entertainment and spirit of the building and welcome from the BMI team will be very much the same. I’m sure there will be an additional excitement too whether the venue team are seeing regular visitors again or welcoming new people to the building for the first time. We can’t wait to see everyone and hear the sounds of laughter and enjoyment in the auditorium once again. The ‘Stute’ isn’t just a venue, it is a way of life and a building treasured by so many. It will once again take its place as a key member of the community and we can’t wait!”