A young people’s production of South Pacific in the Coliseum Theatre Aberdare was boosted last week when it, along with 35 other small businesses and community groups, received the first awards from a major wind farm fund set up to benefit people living in the upper reaches of the Neath, Afan, Rhondda and Cynon valleys.
The independent, Aberdare-based Community Interest Company managing the Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund has invested more than £127,204 in 36 organisations from the £1.8mn a year fund set up by Swedish energy company Vattenfall, the operator of the wind farm. This first round of Micro Fund grants will benefit 12,500 people in the area. More funding rounds are to follow this year, and the Vision Fund offering grants of over £5,000 will be launched later this month.
Showcase Siogerdd Performing Arts Association will receive £3,045 to take its October production of South Pacific to the Coliseum Theatre in Aberdare.
Roger Williams of Showcase Siogerdd Performing Arts Association, said: “We work with young people on a range of performing arts projects, and this grant will enable us to put on a production of South Pacific later this year. This will be an amazing experience for all the young people involved – and hopefully for our audiences too.”
Other organisations to benefit Dark Sky Wales Sidewalk Astronomy project, a programme of innovative street-based astronomy activities for young people across Upper Rhondda and Upper Cynon Valley areas; and, Afan Vale Chocolates will receive a grant to support the purchase of essential machinery to grow its business.
Marc Phillips, Chair of the Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund, said: “It’s been a brilliant start for us. There was a huge response to this first funding round – competition was very strong and the assessment Panel had challenging decisions to make. We are grateful to everyone who submitted an application and are delighted to be supporting 36 amazing and wide-ranging projects across the Fund area. We’re looking forward now to our Vision Fund and being able to help many more ambitious and creative projects over the next 20 years.”
Vikki Howells, AM for the Cynon Valley, said: “I would like to congratulate all the successful applicants from the first round of funding. With 120 applications for the Pen y Cymoedd Community Fund, competition was fierce so those bids that were approved can take a sense of well-placed pride in their success. This is a really innovative way to make sure the Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm delivers genuine community improvements and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of future rounds of funding.”
Piers Guy, the UK Country Manager for Vattenfall, said: “Vattenfall has been developing Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm on the Natural Resources Wales Managed Estate for a while and all along we have talked about how the £1.8mn we will give to the Community Fund every year can benefit so many people in this part of Wales. I really have to commend the Community Fund for making such a strong start with these 36 awards, it’s very exciting.”
The Micro Fund offers grants up to £5,000 to developing businesses, start-ups, voluntary and community organisations in the upper reaches of the Afan, Neath, Cynon and Rhondda Valleys, projects that can deliver against the vision set out by the community for their future.
Vattenfall has almost completed the construction of the 76-turbine Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project. When finished it will be Wales’s largest onshore wind farm. As well as contracting with many local businesses in the area during construction, the Swedish energy company has established the index-linked £1.8mn per year community fund, which will run for the lifetime of the wind farm. The fund will be managed and distributed by the independent Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund Community Interest Company.