THE show must go on, as they say in the entertainment industry, but one prominent Powys arts venue fears it could be facing its final curtain call due to a lack of funding.

Builth Wells’ Wyeside Arts Centre has been offered £30,000 by the Arts Council of Wales (ACW) following its 2023 investment review – with which it will run an existing partnership with Theatr Mwldan in Cardigan.

But that is just 20 per cent of what Wyeside chiefs applied for. They say they need £157,000 to break even, and could even shut at the beginning of 2024 without “significant investment”.

Wyeside has fared slightly better than other Powys organisations, like The Hafren theatre in Newtown, Mid Wales Opera and dance charity Impelo, who all had funding withdrawn.

County Times:  The Wyeside Arts Centre, an iconic building in Builth and an important venue for Powys. The Wyeside Arts Centre, an iconic building in Builth and an important venue for Powys. (Image: Wyeside Arts Centre.)

The investment means the venue has operated on the same backing since 2014, since when it has been hit by pandemic shortfalls, rising energy costs, inflation and bouts of flooding.

“We are sadly in very big trouble,” said general manager Jill Mustafa.

“This grant does not in any way address the desperate need to support, maintain and develop our venue and the associated revenue costs for the future.

“Without significant investment we could be facing final curtains by the beginning of next year. It’s make or break.”

Despite her job title, Jill is not even a full-time member of staff as Wyeside has none, with everyone still on zero hours contracts. It operates on about half the staff a venue of its size probably should.

“We wrote a long email to the ACW, saying we can’t go on as we are,” added Jill.

“We put in for £157,000, which we need just to break even. They offered us £30,000, which is what we were already getting from the Mwldan partnership.

“But it’s specifically to support the programme, so we get nothing to keep the lights on or support the venue.”


Wyeside was funded fully by the ACW until 2011, when the money was cut since when Powys County Council has provided its only other regular source of finance.

Covid-19 relief funding kept Wyeside going in the last few years, but PCC funding has also now dwindled.

In 2020 Wyeside received £34,361 from the local authority but that is set to fall to £7,000, and next year they fear it could be nothing.

“There have been stories about us closing forever,” admitted finance manager Rob Warlow.

“But we’ve always been creative, cutting little bits here and there. But we’ve now trimmed everything, we’ve run out of ways to keep things going.

“The only way to keep the place going now is drastic steps, which we don’t want to take. We either face closure or taking these drastic steps. There’s nothing left to save.

“We’ve been here so many times before, and we try to avoid being dramatic and taking drastic decisions. But this is a position we’ve not been in before.”

County Times:  Wyeside staff (from l) Rob Warlow, Hermione Wright, Jennifer Vallely, Jill Mustafa and Jill Thomas. Wyeside staff (from l) Rob Warlow, Hermione Wright, Jennifer Vallely, Jill Mustafa and Jill Thomas. (Image: Matt Jones)

Rob added: “The £30,000 is the exact same amount they gave us 10 years ago. We’ve spent the last 8-9 years getting by.  

“Attendances after Covid was around 60 per cent, understandable. That has improved but we’re still operating roughly 20 per cent down on pre-Covid.

“Meanwhile, electricity costs have tripled, and we use a lot because it’s what we do. Next year we’re looking at a shortfall of £90-100,000.”

Wyeside is appealing against the ACW’s decision and that could be resolved by December.

In the meantime, it is trying to drum up support, reaching out to the local community for sponsorship and also appealing to its ‘friends’ and patrons.

Wyeside visitors can consider becoming a ‘friend’ of the venue.

“Without your help Wyeside’s future is under threat,” said Jill.

“The outcome of the ACW investment review has had a devastating impact on the arts in Mid Wales.

"Impelo, Theatr Hafren and Mid Wales Opera have all lost their funding – it’s time to fight for the arts.”

Visit Wyeside at and find out more about how you can help.