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Friday, 31 May, 2002, 06:00 GMT 07:00 UK
Politicians go pop to the tune of £4m
Listeners of today are becoming music makers in Porth
Budding designers, musicians, broadcasters and web producers in the south Wales valleys are set to get a £4m leg-up.

Welsh Assembly officials are ploughing cash into the Pop Factory music complex at Porth, Rhondda.

The former Corona soft drinks plant has already found retro fame as a music venue, digital production lab and souped-up youth club.

Kelly Jones, Stereophonics
The Stereophonics lent their support to the studio
Now Education Minister Jane Davidson is planning to harness its fizz to re-introduce a learning ethos for valleys youngsters.

Brainchild of television production outfit Avanti Group, the Pop Factory quickly secured contracts with the BBC for a show of the same name and with S4C for Sessiwn Hwyr.

The facility, opened two years ago, also boasts a recording studio, design spaces and 34 members of staff.

Growing fast

Husband and wife managers Emyr Afan and Mair Afan Davies hoped to attract valleys young adults as well as talent from further afield to make a name for their project.

Already the UK's fastest-growing independent television company, with Pop Factory, Avanti has now become a mixed-media production house firmly attached to its own community.

Youngsters picking up recording tips learn a skill
It had already announced the plans for an mp3 internet café, complete with web design, phtotography and mixing facilities.

Now Ms Davidson is keen to tap in to that potential with an announcement at the factory Friday morning.

With Avanti and public sector training body ELWa, the Welsh Assembly will invest in Pop Factory to ensure continued new media training, helping attract disengaged young people back to practical learning.

The bodies jointly issued a statement Thursday, in advance of Ms Davidson's 0930 BST visit to Porth.

"The scheme is part of a new Wales-wide drive, lead by ELWa, to bring learning opportunities closer to local communities," it read.

"[It will also] make education accessible to those least likely to take advantage of existing facilities."

'Yearning for learning'

Avanti director Emyr Afan told a newspaper this month: "The yearning for learning has gone.

"It will be an informal learning environment that will make a subject, that may not be that engaging, exciting through the way it's presented."

The new facility was expected to open during the summer.

Launched with a visit by Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews, the Pop Factory has come to stand for more than the Cool Cymru fad ever could.

Ash, Alfie and Muse are some of the UK bands to have graced the basement studio, while homegrown upstarts like the Crocketts and Big Leaves have represented the development ethos.

In another example of public sector support for fledgling artists, the Pynci project aims to give new musicians a lift up into professional studio environments.

An off-shoot of the New Deal for Musicians, it was bankrolled with European Social Fund and Objective One and Three cash.



See also:

09 Jul 01 | Entertainment
07 Jul 01 | UK
01 Dec 00 | Wales
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07 Jul 01 | Wales
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