Bangor Pontio arts centre 'to create hundreds of jobs'
A £37m arts and innovation centre in Bangor, Gwynedd, will create and safeguard hundreds of jobs, it is claimed.
Bangor University's Pontio centre will include a theatre with up to 550 seats.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) delayed the official launch by First Minister Carwyn Jones, claiming it is ignoring the language.
But that was rejected by the university, which said it would be a "champion" for Welsh.
Mr Jones said: "This scheme will capitalise on local skills and expertise to create and safeguard hundreds of jobs and business opportunities which will promote economic growth in the area."
It is hoped that the development will open by spring 2013.
Bangor has been without a theatre since Theatr Gwynedd closed in October 2008.
The assembly government and EU have put £27.5m towards the scheme.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith members entered the launch with posters saying "Ble mae'r Gymraeg" (Where's the Welsh) and "Pontio, fflop i'r gymuned a'r Gymraeg" (Pontio, a flop for the community and Welsh).
End Quote Professor Fergus Lowe Deputy vice-chancellor, Bangor University
It will be a cultural beacon for Wales and a champion of the Welsh language”
Menna Machreth, a spokesperson for the Gymdeithas, who is also a PhD student at Bangor University said there had been no answers from the university about the "appalling treatment of Welsh in the university and the Pontio project".
"There needs to be a full review of how this has happened," she said.
The proposals for the art and innovation hub were first announced last year, described as a "once in a generation chance" for Bangor.
The venue is planned to include cinema space, a studio theatre and an outdoor amphitheatre as well as bars, dining and park areas.
The innovation hub aims to provide design facilities for firms working areas in ranging from digital technologies, the creative industries, environmental goods and services, bioscience, advanced software and visualisation.
Bangor University said the scheme would have a "positive impact" on around 900 jobs, with 450 created or safeguarded during the construction phase, 100 more during the operational stage, and a further 330 jobs through the innovation hub.
Deputy vice-chancellor Professor Fergus Lowe said: "We're very excited to see this Pontio project begin in earnest.
"Pontio will provide a focal point for the local community as a centre where people can meet, learn and be entertained.
"It will be a cultural beacon for Wales and a champion of the Welsh language."