The Arts Centre is open seven days a week throughout the year offering a full programme of theatre, dance, music, exhibitions, film, literature, comedy and a wide range of performing and visual arts classes and courses that would be the envy of many cities far larger than Aberystwyth. The very busy programme over the summer months includes festivals and the large scale summer season theatre production, to appeal to the core Mid Wales audience as well as the large visitor and tourist market.
The Theatre seats 312 people and its programme is a mixture of professional and community productions, plus increasingly in-house professional productions which are also taken out on tour. At Christmas the Arts Centre presents its own family show, after which the Warden’s take to the stage for their traditional pantomime, which is guaranteed to cheer up even the gloomiest January. The Summer Season production runs for five weeks (44 performances) over July and August. The programme includes a wide range of theatre, dance, opera, comedy, musicals and family events.
The Studio seats 60-80 and offers a smaller, more intimate space for new and experimental work, literature readings and for the Open Platform scheme which aims to encourage and support new and emerging artists and performers.
The Concert Hall seats up to 1250 people, and is used for a wide range of music concerts, theatre productions, light entertainment, as well as University events including Graduation Ceremonies. The flexible space means it can also be used for trade shows, conferences, weddings and other special events, which generate significant income for the Arts Centre.
The Cinema is very popular with constantly updated technology including Digital HD, Dolby Stereo and 3D. Live links from around the world have been so successful with seasons from the New York Met, Bolshoi Ballet and National Theatre that digital projection has also been installed in the theatre. The Cinema shows at least two films every day of the week, plus Silver Screenings, Parent and Baby screenings, Film Society, Cult Film Series, and numerous festivals – from the Abertoir horror festival to the WOW Wales One World Film Festival and more.
Gallery 1, an elegant purpose built space is the main exhibition gallery which showcases the very best of contemporary art including painting, sculpture, installations and new media and digital work. Gallery 2 provides a focus for print and photography work, whilst the Café Gallery provides a more informal setting for smaller scale work. The Ceramics Gallery showcases the best in contemporary ceramics from around the world and is also home to the University’s outstanding Ceramic Collection. The Arts Centre is now recognised by the Arts Council as one of key members of the network of major galleries in Wales and is the principle regional contemporary art gallery for Mid and West Wales. A recent development has been the installation of ‘The Box’ which is a mini-viewing space to showcase artists’ films.
Workshop spaces for the Community Arts programme include four purpose built dance studios, ceramic studio, 3D studio, 2D studio, two rehearsal spaces, music room, photographic suite and a Digilab. The Arts Centre encourages participation in a whole range of artforms by students, staff and the local community through the use of its resources, facilities and provision of professional expertise. Participants are encouraged and supported to showcase their skills through public performances and exhibitions.
The Cafés and Bars are very popular. The award winning cafés offer a wide range of freshly prepared meals and snacks from early in the morning through to the evening.
The Arts Centre is also home to a Craft & Design Shop offering a wide range of contemporary crafts and jewellery focusing particularly on work from Wales and also the Bookshop with latest book releases and academic publications, book launches and literary events. The Craft shop also stages a major Craft fair each year during November and December with over eighty stalls showcasing the work of makers from Wales.
The Arts Centre’s facilities are also used for conferences, television recording, craft and food fairs, sales seminars and meetings, with full service and catering provided in-house.