Monthly Archives: February 2016

Neuadd Ogwen: The Swiss Army Knife of Music Venues

Neuadd Ogwen, a community hall in Bethesda, has been transferred to the community. What can other groups learn from its flexibility and success? Dyfrig Williams went to find out.

As someone who loves live music, it’s been heartbreaking to see so many venues closing. I grew up in Carmarthen, where the Parrot closed (and has now fortunately re-opened after a successful crowdfunding campaign), and even in my new home of Cardiff venues like the Barfly closed due to lack of funds. If venues face problems in a city like Cardiff, what chance of survival do they have in a small town like Bethesda?

Well as it turns out, the chances are pretty good. Neuadd Ogwen has made the most of a Chairman and staff who are passionate about the culture of the town. And when we visited, the hall was getting set to host Sweet Baboo, Welsh Music Prize nominee and darling of 6 Music.

The Background

The venue has been a community hall for over 100 years, and in that time it’s been used for several purposes, including selling animals and concerts.

Picture of Neuadd Ogwen

Neuadd Ogwen

A couple of years ago the Tabernacle made a bid to take over the hall and make it a professional venue with good lighting, whilst focusing on the needs of the local community. As we’re living in a time where public funds are scarce, it’s likely that several voluntary organisations and Town and Community Councils will find themselves in similar situations.

What happened

Dyfrig Jones, the Chairman of the Tabernacle, did all the groundwork by taking care of the paperwork that made the dream into a reality. And although the building is now open, there’s still a lot of scope for the hall to host a wide range of projects. I spoke to Dilwyn Llwyd, the Hall Manager, about how they have made the building available for as many purposes as possible.

Firstly, they identified potential sources of income, because more activities means more use by the community. They created a questionnaire to source ideas and identify members of the public that might want to volunteer – about 50 as it turns out. The next step is for these volunteers to be fully trained, on food safety for example, so that they can boost the hall’s income by making as much use as possible of the cafe and bar.

The inside of Neuadd Ogwen

Inside the hall of Neuadd Ogwen

The results of the questionnaire also helped create the hall’s programme. People have brought their own ideas (like yoga) to the hall. There is also a market once a month, kickboxing, events for the elderly, concerts and Cawl a Chan (‘soup and song’) nights, as well as one-off events like birthday parties and weddings.

The hall also acts as a cinema – they show 3 films a month. Children’s films are especially popular, as the nearest cinema is quite a distance away. All of these activities increase the number of visitors, and the high footfall ensures that people are aware of what is happening on a regular basis. And of course because this is a community project, all the profit is re-invested back into the hall. The venue has a target of being open for 100 hours a week, which is ambitious. But it helps the staff to focus on how they can promote the use of the hall for the benefit of the community.

Staffing

It was interesting to hear how Neuadd Ogwen have made the most of the Jobs Growth Wales scheme to boost the capacity of venue staff. The scheme has allowed them to employ two members of staff to do the marketing, administration and to look after the facility. This has enabled Dilwyn to focus on the hall’s programme and the day to day management.

So the hall is not just looking to survive, it’s set to thrive. And because it’s looking at all the needs of the community as a whole, it is well placed to do so. I’m looking forward to seeing a gig there next time I’m in the North.

Neuadd Ogwen: Y Cyllell Byddin y Swistir o Leoliadau Cerddoriaeth

Mae Neuadd Ogwen yn ased sydd wedi cael ei drosglwyddo i’r gymuned. Beth all grwpiau eraill dysgu o’i llwyddiant a’i hyblygrwydd? Aeth Dyfrig Williams i ffeindio allan.

Fel rhywun sy’n caru cerddoriaeth byw, mae fe wedi bod yn dorcalonnus i weld cymaint o leoliadau cerddoriaeth cau. Cefais fy magu yng Nghaerfyrddin, ble mae’r Parrot wedi cau (a bellach wedi’i ail agor yn dilyn ymgyrch ariannu torfol llwyddiannus), a hyd yn oed yn fy nghartref newydd yng Nghaerdydd mae lleoliadau fel y Barfly wedi cau oherwydd diffyg arian. Os mae yna broblemau mewn llefydd eithaf mawr, pa siawns sydd gyda thref fach fel Bethesda o gynnal lleoliad?

Eithaf da fel mae’n troi mas. Mae Neuadd Ogwen wedi gwneud y fwyaf o Gadeirydd a staff sy’n angerddol am ddiwylliant y dref. A phan wnaethon ni ymweld â’r neuadd, roedden nhw’n paratoi am gig Sweet Baboo, sydd wedi cael ei enwebu ar gyfer y Wobr Gerddoriaeth Gymreig ac sy’n cael ei chwarae’n reolaidd gan 6 Music.

Cefndir y Neuadd

Mae’r lleoliad wedi bod yn neuadd gymunedol am dros 100 mlynedd, ac yn yr amser hynny mae’r neuadd wedi cael ei ddefnyddio am sawl bwrpas, gan gynnwys gwerthu anifeiliaid a chynnal cyngherddau anffurfiol.

Llun o Neuadd Ogwen

Neuadd Ogwen

Cwpl o flynyddoedd yn ôl fe wnaeth Cwmni Tabernacl cais i wneud y Neuadd yn ganolfan broffesiynol, gyda goleuadau da a digwyddiadau o safon, wrth ffocysu ar anghenion tra-leol. Ac achos rydym mewn cyfnod ble mae arian cyhoeddus yn brin, mae’n debyg fe fydd sawl mudiad gwirfoddol a Chynghorau Tref a Chymuned yn ffeindio ei hunain mewn sefyllfa debyg.

Beth ddigwyddodd

Dyfrig Jones, Cadeirydd y Tabernacl, wnaeth y gwaith sylfaenol trwy wneud y gwaith papur a wnaeth troi’r breuddwyd yn realiti. Ac er bod yr adeilad bellach yn agored, mae dal gan y neuadd sgôp eang ar gyfer beth sy’n bosib.

Siaradais â Dilwyn Llwyd, Rheolwr y Neuadd, amdano sut maen nhw wedi gwneud yr adeilad mor aml-ddefnydd a phosib. Meddyliwyd amdano ffynonellau incwm, achos bod mwy o weithgareddau yn meddwl mwy o ddefnydd gan y gymuned. Cafodd holiadur ei greu er mwyn derbyn syniadau aelodau’r cyhoedd ac i ffeindio allan os oeddynt eisiau gwirfoddoli. Mae hyn wedi cynhyrchu rhestr o 50 gwirfoddolwr. Y cam nesaf ar gyfer y gwirfoddolwyr yma yw hyfforddiant priodol, er enghraifft hyfforddiant ar safon bwyd, fel gall y defnydd o’r caffi a bar helpu i dyfu incwm y neuadd.

Llun o du fewn i Neuadd Ogwen

Tu fewn i Neuadd Ogwen

Mae canlyniadau’r holiadur hefyd wedi helpu creu rhaglen y Neuadd. Mae pobl wedi dod a syniadau eu hunain, fel yoga. Mae yna hefyd marchnad unwaith y mis, cic focsio, digwyddiadau i’r henoed, cyngherddau a chawl a chan, a digwyddiadau un-tro fel partïon pen-blwydd a phriodasau.

Mae’r Neuadd hefyd yn gweithredu fel sinema – mae’n dangos 3 ffilm y mis. Mae ffilmiau plant yn hynod o lwyddiannus, gan fod y sinema agosaf yn bell i ffwrdd. Mae’r rhain i gyd yn cynyddu’r nifer o ymwelwyr, ac yn sicrhau bod pobl yn ymwybodol o beth sy’n digwydd yn rheolaidd. A gan fod hwn yn brosiect cymunedol, mae’r arian i gyd yn cael ei fuddsoddi yn ôl i’r safle.

Mae’r ffaith bod yr adeilad yn cael ei ddefnyddio mor aml yn profi angen a bod yna werth cymunedol i’r adeilad. Mae gan y Neuadd targed o fod ar agor am 100 awr yr wythnos, sy’n darged uchelgeisiol, ond mae’n helpu i ffocysu’r staff i edrych ar sut allant hybu defnydd y Neuadd er fudd y gymuned.

Staffio

Roedd e hefyd yn ddiddorol i glywed am sut mae Neuadd Ogwen wedi gwneud y fwyaf o gynllun Twf Swyddi Cymru er mwyn hybu capasiti staff y lleoliad. Mae’r cynllun wedi galluogi iddynt gyflogi dau aelod o staff er mwyn gwneud gwaith marchnata, gwaith gweinyddol a gofalu am y lleoliad. Mae hyn wedi galluogi Dilwyn i ffocysu ar adeiladu rhaglenni a’r gwaith rheoli o ddydd i ddydd.

Felly nid jyst edrych i oroesi mae’r neuadd, ond edrych i ffynnu. A gan fod y Neuadd yn edrych ar holl anghenion y gymuned yn ei gyfanrwydd, mae’n sefyllfa dda i wneud hynny. Rwy’n edrych ymlaen at fynd i weld gig yna tro nesaf rydw i yn y Gogledd.