A THEATRE which has attracted a whole host of celebrities, from Owen Money to Max Boyce, is celebrating after getting a new lease of life.

The Congress Theatre, in Cwmbran, has played a prominent role in the wider Gwent community for 46 years. Last year alone, its famous performances brought in more than 68,000 people.

And yesterday, crowds of people flocked to an open day to see the site after it had a £167,000-worth revamp.

Manager Martyn Redwood said the sum of money had been spent to ensure its long-term survival.

“We got £10,000 from Cwmbran Trust, £70,000 from the Arts Council and the rest came from our fundraising efforts,” he said.

“We also had some help from Barclays Bank.

"The theatre attracts some big names. Owen Money comes a few times a year.

“We realised that we needed to adapt to keep up with the times.

“And in five years we managed to get £165,000 to change the place. The works finished a few days ago and that is why we are holding the open day. We want people to see how we have changed.”

The works have seen new things brought in, including an electric moveable seating, updated bar facilities, improved air-conditioning, new stage curtains and a folding wall to increase room hire capacity.

At a time when funding is being squeezed, the 38-year-old hopes the site will weather the storm.

“We are going to lose money because of cuts," he said.

"But so far we do not know how much we are going to end up losing.

"Lots of places have been hit by cuts. So, with that in mind, for us to raise this sum of money I think to be absolutely incredible."

He also expressed his thanks to everyone who has supported the site over the years.

"We are always grateful for the help people give us," he said.

"I want to thank all those who continue to help us."

In addition to performance,s the Congress Theatre is also used regularly used by community groups and charities, including Welsh Blood.

For more information, visit www.congresstheatre.co.uk/