North West Wales

Bangor university's Pontio: Work starts on arts centre

Artist's impression of Pontio arts and innovation centre
Image caption The Pontio arts centre will be open to Bangor students and the community

The foundation stone has been laid for a new £44m arts and innovation centre in Bangor, Gwynedd, during a ceremony to mark the start of building work.

Pontio will house a new theatre, cinema, restaurant, bars, student union and teaching and learning spaces.

The Bangor University-led centre, which will be open to the community, is likely to be ready by 2014.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews, a former Bangor student, laid the stone during Friday's ceremony.

The 10,000 sq m building will link the city's Memorial Arch with the university's main building, up a steep slope.

It will also provide Bangor with a theatre after its last one - Theatr Gwynedd - closed in October 2008.

Image caption Pontio will be constructed on a sloping site between the Memorial Arch and the main university building

Pontio's artistic director Elen ap Robert said Pontio will provide a venue for a host of artistic performances.

"The centre will be home for all sorts of creativity, from drama and cabaret to aerial theatre and classical concerts," she added.

Prof John G Hughes, Bangor University's vice-chancellor, said the centre would be a "focal point" for both the local community and the university.

"It will be a place to meet, learn and be entertained as well as a home for innovative research, design and learning," he said.

"It will be a unique place with the potential to transform Bangor."

The arts centre will receive £27.5m of capital funding from the Welsh government and European Regional Development Fund, as well as funding from the Arts Council of Wales and from the university itself.

When the project was officially launched Bangor University said the scheme would create or safeguard 450 jobs during the construction phase, 100 more during the operational stage, and a further 330 jobs through the innovation hub.

Image caption Pontio will house a new theatre, cinema, restaurant, bars and a student union

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